back to article The fearful price of 4G data coverage: NO TELLY for 90,000 Brits

Deployment of 4G mobile networks could take out TV broadcasts for 90,000 homes, rather than the two million which had been feared – but thousands of pounds is available for upgrades to affected homes. That's according to at800, the organisation handed £180m to fix a problem which, it now admits, isn't nearly as bad as had been …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bored with your nonsense now!

    The people in charge of allocating UK spectrum space are more competent than the fools sitting around all day copying other peoples work and falsely ascribing misleading buzzwords to what they have copied.

    I don't know why the idiots are attaching the buzzword 4G to networks that will operate adjacent to the TV stations since even fools know higher frequency enables higher bandwidth.

    The networks deploying in this frequency spectrum should more appropriately be called 3R. Three Range.

    The performance of this new network will be somewhat like 2G. The operators who owned the higher frequencies could have easily created many small micro-cells without buying more spectrum. But intelligent people know multiple micro-cells for a rural community would be uneconomical. 'Economics', something the creators of buzzwords have no clue about.

    1. Michael B.

      Re: Bored with your nonsense now!

      Its bandwidth and Signal to Noise Ratio that determines the maximum bit rate. A 5Mhz channel at 1800Mhz and 800Mhz with the same S/N ratio will carry data at the same rate. See for the Maths

      Now the big advantage of these lower frequency transmitters is that they propagate further that then higher frequencies and as such fewer towers will be required to to cover a given area.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Bored with your nonsense now!

        Fewer towers (masts) also means poorer capacity.

        1. Paul Shirley

          Re: Fewer towers (masts) also means poorer capacity

          In urban areas lower frequencies penetrate walls better allowing more of the mast bandwidth to actually be used. Where demand is being met, less towers at higher bandwidth efficiency can deliver the same capacity to users as more, low efficiency ones.

          O2 massively increased service where I live but still can't get a 2 or 3G signal to me in many pubs I use. It's not the number of towers or their capacity, it's whether I can even connect to them to use the bandwidth!

          1. Shasta McNasty

            Re: Fewer towers (masts) also means poorer capacity

            There are better things to be doing in pubs other than using a 2/3G signal.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Bored with your nonsense now!

        Not only "further" but they penetrate into buildings better.

        $wokrplace is a rather old building with 20 inch think brick walls. 1800MHz sIgnal is very high out front but inside and behind the building are no-go areas for most phones.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bored with your nonsense now!

        I am well aware of what determines bandwidth even more so than those complaining, who spent decades trying to figure out cdma. I couldn’t be bothered to dig out my notes and give a detailed explanation to those who ought to know better. There is much more bandwidth available at the higher frequencies than the lower ones. Do you really think you can use 16/64 QAM in noisy environments such as mobile broadband. WiFi only goes into theses modes at pretty close range under 300 meters outdoor and 150 indoors when the SNR is good. GSM 900 didn't even make use of these modulation schemes. Maybe I don't know something and these new networks at the 800 MHz spectrum will be allowed to output power equivalent to what the TV stations did. This would allow large download data rates. The handsets power would probably be limited due to health concerns.

    2. Irongut

      Re: Bored with your nonsense now!

      I'm bored with no nothings like yourself who post comments on articles exposing incorrect views on subjects you don't understand. But since I'm not allowed to chop your hands off to stop you I guess I'll have to put up with it.

  2. Pen-y-gors

    £10K cap per household?

    What were they thinking they could spend £10K per household on? Motorcycle courier to deliver latest programmes on a USB stick?

    Surely the simplest and obvious solution for the vast majority of the 90K houses is a Freesat dish costing what, ooh, couple of hundred quid? And if it's a grade 1 listed building then put up a standalone dish in the garden.

    And anyone who can't manage a dish OR get a freesat signal OR who hasn't already got decent broadband - well, there's always Radio 4 Longwave!

    But the question now is what they'll spend the surplus from the £180M on? Trebles all round?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £10K cap per household?

      Its not just "grade 1 listed building" that have restrictions on dish antennas, also most building fronts in conservation areas, so the extra expenses for unusual solutions could be more common than you think.

      If it was one dish per block of flats, easy, but most use control of the front end for frequency & polarisation to cover all channels so there is a basic design problem with multiple set-top boxes on a single antenna.

      1. John Sager

        Re: £10K cap per household?

        Not heard of a multiswitch? Standard equipment these days in blocks of flats to distribute sat signals. Some of them will even do two or 3 sats (9/13 input jobbies).

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Timmay

      Re: £10K cap per household?

      You have to set the cap at a figure higher than the cost of any reasonable eventuality, to catch the 0.01% of weird circumstances you might encounter - yeah, £10k sounds like a lot, but as fun as it is to criticise people's/corporate's/committee's thinking, people aren't stupid and there was probably reasoning behind it.

      As for the surplus, it says in the article - "Cash left over goes back to the operators"

    3. Joseph Lord

      Re: £10K cap per household?

      If the money is unspent it goes back to the mobile operators who put the money in to start with.

      You need a line of sight to the satellite to get Sky/Freesat and at least in some mountainous locations that will not be possible without running long cables. The angle to the satellite also drops as you head North so it might be a more severe issue in Scotland too.

    4. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: £10K cap per household?

      But the question now is what they'll spend the surplus from the £180M on?

      A few more rebranding exercises, along the lines of the previous "DMSL" --> "at800" should get rid of that nicely.

  3. Steve Todd

    Do you know ANYTHING about digital broadcast technology?

    Network performance is not down to frequency, rather to bandwidth. Not just that either, the coding scheme and transmission method are also a factor. The result is that 4G @800 MHz will be every bit as fast as 4G @ 2.6 GHz for a given sized block of bandwidth. The 2.6 GHz signals don't propagate as far so are better for tightly packed urban areas where you want many base stations to service the number of users. The 800 MHz band will give better coverage in rural areas. BOTH of these bands were auctioned off in case you didn't notice.

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: Do you know ANYTHING about digital broadcast technology?

      Don't know what happened here, that comment should have been attached to the original post.

    2. itzman

      Re: Do you know ANYTHING about digital broadcast technology?

      teh 800Mhz signals wont get far in a rural location smothered in windmills.

      Its not just birds that get chopped - the multipath off a forest of spinning blades is more than any DSP can cope with.

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: Do you know ANYTHING about digital broadcast technology?

        Yes, we all know that rural people can't receive digital TV signals and wind turbine blades are made from metal, not non radio-reflecting carbon fibre. That and the entire countryside is littered with turbines. Or maybe not.

  4. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Smoke and mirrors

    I would like to see the full figures - How many households had problems but were told that's simply tough?

    A flaw in the tests is they cannot reveal how many households had problems but did not report them nor how many households have problems but are not (yet) aware that they do.

    At best the tests show there are fewer people they care about who will be affected than predicted. They don't tell us what the affect is in total; including those they don't care about.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Whilst Freesat is all well andgood, it doen't work in heavy rain, Snow or Hail conditions. So it's fine except between British September and May.

    1. Gonebirdin

      Re: Freesat

      Mine works fine in all weathers

    2. Mike H.

      Re: Freesat

      Its fine all year long with a correctly sized and accurately aligned dish actually.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Freesat

        It CAN stutter in the heaviest rain but that is a rare moment of pixelation, not anything that is a big problem. Satellite reception is affected depending if you are north or south, but you might want to get your dish re-aligned.

      2. Anonymous Coward 15

        Re: Freesat

        What about line of sight? If you're surrounded by hills or trees you might still be screwed.

        1. TeeCee Gold badge

          Re: Freesat

          From experience it has to be a really bloody tall tree, very close and directly in line. Also you have to have a choice of only one place to put the dish and a fairly low place at that.

          Satellites? They're in the sky you know......

          There's a common misconception that LOS is required horizontally, caused by the universal use of offset focus dishes, which look like they're not pointing upwards much.

          I've got mine mounted at head height and pointed dead on at a very large tree, but as the tree's two (fairly narrow) gardens away it's not a factor.

          1. Stuart Castle Silver badge

            Re: Freesat

            "From experience it has to be a really bloody tall tree,"

            Not necessarily. My friend's old house had the Sky dish on the edge of the roof, but because his garden (and house) backed on to a garden that was nearly 20 feet above it, all it took was a relatively small Oak and a few bushes to essentially torpedo his reception.

            That's an extreme example though, and, I'll be honest, I am not sure how good the contractor who installed the dish was.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      ...if correctly installed.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Freesat

      You will find that Freesat does work in heavy rain, Snow or Hail conditions. It just depends on the quality of installation. If the LNB is perfectly aligned/designed for the dish and the installer did a good job then it should work in heavy rain and snow.

      I have done an installation that worked in poor conditions such as snow. I then altered my setup and added a quad LNB that wasn’t designed for the dish and some channels dropped in heavy rain. Having said that channels with good error correction such as BBC and E4 still worked in heavy rain.

      I can remedy the situation by picking up a dish pre-attached to a quad LNB from Sunday market to get back channels such as CNN which drop in heavy rain. We also have Cable in the home so I really cant be bothered with the hassle.

  6. JDX Gold badge

    Freesat reaches just about everywhere and costs a good deal less than that.

    Like 2 orders of magnitude less!

  7. JDX Gold badge

    Wait for the Daily Mail...

    To find £10k is spent on upgrading TV for a household on benefits.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait for the Daily Mail...

      ...and are Asylum seeking foreigners...

  8. Mage Silver badge

    will have to take care of themselves

    That's criminal irresponsibility in Spectrum Planning.

    Mobile doesn't actually need the 800MHz, It won't be broadband and all it does is save a few rural masts (more masts = better data rates) reducing data speed compared with the alternative solutions.

    This is fuelled by

    Government greed on Licence fees

    Tech companies

    Desire of operators to cut costs rather than improve service capacity

    It brings nothing to the consumer and impoverishes DTT, benefits Pay TV on Cable and Satellite.

    Only DTT works anywhere. Satellite & Cable are inflexible and Cable is Pay TV only.

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: will have to take care of themselves

      Yes, mobile does need 800 MHz. We still don't have full 3G coverage because of the cost and number of base stations needed at 2.1 GHz, never mind the new 2.6 GHz band for 4G. They've cheated a little in Scotland and provided some limited 3G on the 2G 900 MHz band.

      At 800 MHz with current LTE systems we should be able to get 20-40 Mbit/sec out of each of the allocated frequency blocks, which is FAR better than the limited 2G data network that otherwise covers rural areas.

      1. jonfr

        Re: will have to take care of themselves

        There is no good reason why 3G can be used at 850/900Mhz. 3G at 900Mhz is already used in Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Sweden and other countries where needed.

  9. Gordan

    NO TELLY for 90,000 Brits

    I sense the average IQ rising already.

  10. jonfr

    No LTE coverage

    This is not a big problem, since LTE coverage is going to be so poor anyway.

  11. Zmodem

    just use an old analog tv booster, freeview is always stutering blocks around without 1 anyway

    1. Zmodem

      a domestic 1 you got in argos a decade ago for £4 for behind the tv

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can somebody explain why certain corporations are making such a fuss with 4G data roll-out.

    When Digital Terrestrial TV was being rolled out the frequencies the channels occupied were right adjacent to Analogue TV. Prior analogue Channels were placed some distance apart. i.e. Chanel 21, 24, 27 and 31.

    The new digital channels appeared right next to the analogue channels. i.e. Channel 43(A) & 44 (D). The digital channels did not interfere with the Analogue ones bearing in mind analogue has no error correction what so ever. Can somebody explain why and for what reason all this fuss is being made over?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Before mobile phones became a reality in the UK there were parts of the country that could not get TV,there still are,unless of course they pay for sattelite.

    They still have to pay a licence fee as the BBC dont offer to "upgrade for free" any one who cant get TV with a standard rooftop aerial.

    So what's all the hoo haa then about a few souls who will join the ranks of people left for decades without a good signal ?

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