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Ofcom wants us to have faster 4G – but you might need a new Freeview aerial

Ofcom has announced plans to make space in the airwaves for more 4G and eventually 5G without having to embark on a drastic retune for Freeview and YouView customers. 

The telecoms regulator wants to make enough space in order to meet needs for data from the UK’s mobile networks. Ofcom has previously predicted that by 2030 there will be a capacity crunch, with demand for data will be 80 times higher than it is today. 

In order to make sure 4G services can continue to increase in speed and coverage can improve, Ofcom needs to work out how this can coexist with digital TV signals. 

Ofcom wants us to have faster 4G - but you might need a new Freeview aerial
The next round of spectrum reshuffling could see you shelling out for a new one of these

Read Recombu Digital’s feature The Future of FreeviewOfcom is hoping to avoid a large-scale retuning of Freeview hardware and installation of new aerials and filters. 

The 700MHz band of the airwaves is currently used by digital terrestrial TV. Liberating this spectrum for the mobile networks to use could see 4G speeds and coverage increase. 

TV signals would move down to the 600MHz band, a part of spectrum which has already been granted to Arqiva, the company which looks after digital terrestrial infrastructure. 

One problem is that some customers with older, non-HD Freeview equipment might need to replace their aerials. Ofcom estimates that between 80,000 and 90,000 aerials would need to be replaced with more modern equipment. The regulator puts the average cost of an aerial plus installation at £150 – which adds up to £12m or £13.5m in total. 

Currently, it’s not expected that you’ll need to buy any other new equipment. Whether you’ve got an old-school Freeview box or a more up to date Freeview HD smart TV, you should be good. 

Ofcom expects to reach a decision on its plans for 4G, 5G and Freeview by the end of the year or early 2015. 

Image: chris vaughn/Flickr


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