at800, the organisation tasked with ensuring UK viewers continue to receive Freeview* when 4G mobile services at 800 MHz are launched later this year, goes into operation today. Its first pilot begins on Monday in the West Midlands; and its website (www.at800.tv) and UK-based contact centre are now live.
The organisation – funded by the UK mobile operators with licences to provide 4G mobile services at 800 MHz (EE, Telefónica O2 UK, Three and Vodafone) – is the only one in Europe planning proactive steps to address this issue on behalf of viewers.
Other elements of at800’s programme already underway include the purchase, testing and branding of filters; the creation of targeted communications for those likely to be affected; and the development of an extensive programme to support vulnerable groups.
Simon Beresford-Wylie, at800 chief executive, said: “I’m delighted that just two weeks after the license awards, we are already in a strong position and about to begin our first pilot. This is an important phase and will give us a clearer picture of how many people are likely to be affected. We’ll do our best to ensure minimum disruption to viewers in the area as we gather the information we need.”
The at800 pilot will run in the Cradley Heath and Rowley Regis area of the West Midlands from Monday 18th March for up to two weeks. Residents and businesses are being asked for their help to report the extent to which Freeview services are disrupted when 4G masts are temporarily activated. More trials will follow ahead of the first commercial rollouts of 4G at 800 MHz expected from early summer 2013.
at800 has signed contracts with five manufacturers to ensure an adequate supply of filters that, in most cases, will eliminate interference from 4G services. The companies providing filters for consumers are: Filtronic, Link Microtek, Philex, Radio Design and Televes. Filters that display the at800 logo have been extensively tested by Digital TV Group (DTG) Testing.
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