Following on from successful small-scale trials in the West Midlands, 4G overlords the at800 Group are set to begin a second bout of testing measuring the extent to which the UK's impending 4G switch-on may disrupt Freeview signals.
The second trial run will commence on 15 April and focus on approximately 170,000 at-risk households and business premises in South-east London, taking in the Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark, and Tower Hamlets areas.
Testing in London is seen as a crucial indicator of the potential for TV disruption resulting from 4G mast activation, due to the capital's high population density and crowded airwaves. If the group's trials continue to see minimal interference, Britain's 4G switch-on could go ahead as early as this summer.
"These larger tests are essential to help improve our forecast model and the way we'll tackle potential issues caused by 4G at 800 MHz. We are extremely grateful to viewers in south east London for their help with these important tests," commented Simon Beresford-Wylie, chief executive of at800.
Prior to the at800 Group's initial 4G/Freeview investigation in the West Midlands, it was feared that sending the UK's new-generation mobile spectrum live would wreak havoc on television viewing across the land. Predictions of a 4G apocalypse derive from the close proximity of the 800MHz 4G frequency to the UK's Freeview signal.
Initial speculation positing that 4G could disrupt TV reception for up to two million homes appear to have been overstated, after the testing around Cradley Heath and Rowley Regis showed only 15 homes to be adversely affected – considerably lower than the 120 signals that would have been impacted were the predictions accurate.
The at800 group is a joint venture set up by Three, Vodafone, EE, and O2 to probe the impact of 4G rollout on digital TV signals. At present, EE is the UK's sole purveyor of 4G mobile services, with the other networks expected to join the party later this year.
If you live in the south east London area and experience problems with your Freeview service from 15 April, please contact at800 on 0333 31 31 800.