3/17/2010 11:23:00 AM
Spectrum interference delays Digital Britain
The rollout of ‘4G’ and mobile broadband services under the Digital Britain programme will create greater interference on aircraft radar and cable TV channels than first estimated, and could delay the Digital Britain programme.
The problems were revealed in a Government report published this week, which responds to issues raised in the Digital Britain consultation paper.
Under the Digital Britain programme, the Government has pledged to deliver high-speed broadband to 90% of the UK by 2012.
However, the report reveals that interference problems to cable TV services on 800MHz band, which will carry LTE services, and to radar bands on 2.6GHz, which will carry mobile broadband services, could delay the rollout.
The report said: ‘The extent of these problems has become more evident during the period of this consultation’, and added: ‘There may be some delay in being able to deploy (4G and mobile broadband) services.’
Solving those interference problems could be time consuming. Priory Consulting MD Eddie Murphy said: ‘If it is a problem you can fix centrally it will probably not cause too much delay.
‘However, if the deployment technology means you have to fix every cable TV junction box at the end of every street in Britain and at every civil and military airport then it could cause considerable delay.’
There is also an issue of cost. Since the Government has pledged to auction off the spectrum before the interference issues are solved, the responsibility for fixing the problem will fall in the laps of the operators.
Murphy said: ‘The costs are likely to be borne by the newcomer. It is certainly not the cable TV companies’ problem to fix but the operators will certainly want it fixed.’
Some respondents to the consultation have argued that the auction should be delayed until the interference problems are addressed. However, the Government is keen to press on with the auction.
An Ofcom spokesman said a programme of installing filters was already underway to solve the radar interference. He added: ‘If there are any implications on safety it simply won’t happen.’