Scalloway resident’s TV signal disrupted by new 4G mobile signal

A Scalloway resident has raised concerns about folk forking out unnecessary cash – after a new 4G mobile phone service disrupted TV reception in the village.

Alan Inkster said he switched on the television on Monday to discover there was no Freeview picture or signal.

After attending a community council meeting that evening he heard a new 4G phone signal had been switched on and after a bit of research online realised that was the cause of the problem.

Alan Inkster with the television and 4G transmitter mast that unexpectedly blocked his TV signal. Photo: Mark Burgess

Mr Inkster contacted a government-led project called at800, which was formed to address the issues on the back of the switchover to digital TV coverage in 2012.

He said he was told by the company he was the only person in Shetland to have contacted them, though he has concerns others, particularly the elederly and people who cannot get online, could be wrongly thinking there was a problem with their televisions.

“Obviously I didn’t react initially to it, older people who maybe still have to react could be thinking the TV has gone down. I can imagine some people will think they will have to get somebody in [to fix the signal].

Mr Inkster said he checked with a neighbour who had both a satellite and an aerial connection. He said on switching to the aerial signal he had no connection either.

The Castle Street resident said he was being sent a free “filter” in the post to fix the problem.

He said the company had claimed it had sent out a prior postal warning, though Mr Inkster said he had not received one. But at800 said it had sent out 357 postcards to addresses in Scalloway in advance. It said while fourth generation mobile services give people faster access to the internet on smartphones and tablets, there was “a small chance” some 4G mobile signals transmitted at 800 MHz would cause interference to Freeview, which is digital TV received via an aerial.

The company said: “Because 4G at 800 MHz signals sit next to the frequencies used by Freeview, they can overload the receivers in TVs and set-top boxes causing interference. Signs of interference are loss of sound, pictures going blocky, freezing or the TV screen going blank or showing a ‘No Signal’ message.” Cable and satellite TV was not affected.

Chief executive Ben Roome said the company was set up to help people encountering problems.

Regarding the issue in Scalloway, he said, “so far we are only directly aware of one person”.

Mr Roome said between 300 and 400 postcards were sent out last summer, though there had been a delay in the 4G mast being switched on.

He said filters could be sent out and if there were further issues the firm would send up an engineer to help.

Mr Roome said anyone with problems should call the at800 freephone number on 08081313800.


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