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Viewers rate TV interference support excellent

4G/DTT co-existence mitigation programme has been operational for two years

London: Wednesday 6 May, 2015:

In the last 12 months, nine out of 10 of viewers have rated the support received from at800 as ‘excellent’[1]. Two years after becoming operational, the 4G/Television co-existence programme continues to help households that rely on Freeview – the most watched platform in the UK – for TV.

at800’s chief executive officer, Ben Roome, said, “We’ve consistently beaten the performance requirements agreed with our Oversight Board and Ofcom. We’ve also made a number of changes over the last two years to improve our support. We ensure viewers who rely on Freeview for TV can do so as 4G at 800 MHz expands across the UK.”

at800 has made over 15,000 engineer visits to individual households. In less than half of these visits, 4G at 800 MHz could be contributing to interference. When 4G could be a contributory factor, and viewers are reliant on Freeview for TV, the company always resolves any disruption.

The most common causes of poor DTT reception are unnecessary or faulty television signal amplifiers. Sometimes this is due to system damage, such as water ingress to amplifiers attached to rooftop aerials, but amplifiers are often being used when they are not required.

“We never forget that Freeview continues to be the most used media platform in the UK –ahead of satellite cable and online for TV as well as other types of media such as print and radio. It is a huge part of daily life in 19 million households across the country, with 11 million households relying on it for their TV. We focus on resolving problems as quickly as possible and know from our survey results that customer satisfaction is high,” said Roome.

at800 evolves continuously by reviewing and adjusting its approach. The company’s goal is to provide the best support by drawing on the technical expertise and experience accrued by its engineers and auditors from household visits, and at its contact centre providing support and initial diagnosis.

The programme will continue to support DTT platform viewers as the 4G rollout continues across the UK.

Notes to editors

Further background and information on at800’s strategy

Stats

  • More than 15,000 visits to UK households have been made by at800-accredited engineers
  • Of these visits, more than 5,800 confirmed cases of 4G disruption have been identified and resolved
  • 1,010,487[2] free filters, designed to block 4G at 800 MHz signals, have been supplied to non-communal households
  • Over 2,000 communal aerial system filters have been supplied to residential blocks containing multiple households
  • 14,858,933 postcards have been sent to properties at risk of experiencing Freeview disruption as a result of 4G masts going live in their area
  • 221,601 calls have been made to the at800 contact centre
  • 5,502 enquiries have been managed through social media.

Aerial engineering process

In January 2014, at800 consolidated its aerial engineering process and appointed three regional contractors with a smaller pool of engineers. In addition, it introduced a clear “fix first time” policy. The company also recruited and appointed one auditor per regional contractor, enabling focussed feedback on the quality of support in viewers’ homes and training leading to a significant improvement of quality and virtually eliminating cases of incorrect diagnosis.

Changes to at800’s support are agreed with the 4G/DTT Mitigation Oversight Board consisting of independent appointees as well as representatives from the broadcast and mobile companies, and observed by Ofcom and government representatives.

Standards of work carried out by at800-accredited engineers continue to improve. at800 runs a 4G+ Mobile Technology course with expert tutors from Birmingham Metropolitan College. The course is a requirement for all engineers before they are accredited to carry out work for at800.

In March 2015, the three regional companies that at800 contracts its engineers from all became TrustMark approved via their membership of the Confederation of Aerial Installers (CAI). TrustMark is the Government-endorsed quality scheme that helps people find reputable local tradesmen providing extra assurance that the person carrying out work at their property is trustworthy.

Refining the organisation’s approach

During 2014, the company changed its approach to mailing viewers to target better those most at risk, introduced at800 accredited engineer visits as the first response to resolving viewer issues, and created a dedicated viewer experience team.

The organisation is also focusing its efforts on reducing the number of repeat visits made by engineers when an issue isn’t resolved on the first visit. These have declined from 20 per cent to eight per cent and the team has set a goal to reduce this number to two per cent.

With fewer cases of Freeview TV disruption being reported than originally predicted, at800 moved from pro-actively sending filters, to providing an at800-accredited engineer on request. As engineers understand the issue in-depth they can diagnose and report the cause of TV disruption. This approach has meant a reduction in the resolution time for viewers genuinely affected by 4G at 800 MHz. In addition, those viewers who would have previously been sent a filter are not unnecessarily worried by receiving something they may not need to use. It also enables at800 to build its depth of knowledge on DTT receptions in the UK and further improve its processes.

at800 also changed its approach to mailing households. The company models the forecasted DTT signal degradation at a property due to 4G at 800 MHz activations and mails those with a greater than 5% potential impact on reception.

With a view to improving its service for UK DTT viewers, at800 created a Viewer Experience Team that works with viewers, at800 accredited engineers and at800’s contact centre to streamline and improve how the information, advice and support received by viewers.

Extra support

at800 continues to offer extra support for those who need it. The organisation runs a programme of work with the voluntary and community sector to ensure people who may struggle with this issue are able to receive support and advice from people they know and trust. This support includes the provision of chaperones to accompany a visit from an at800-accredited engineer, if requested.

The third sector outreach programme ensures that people over 75 years of age or over, the blind or partially sighted and those receiving support are able to access extra help if they need it.

Operating in a changing environment and what lies ahead

at800 is fully aware of the consolidation that’s taking place in the telecoms industry, as well as the preparations the Government and Ofcom are making to plan for future spectrum changes.

These developments have no bearing on at800’s work, or the operators’ obligations to work with at800 to mitigate Freeview disruption. at800 remains committed to ensuring viewers can still watch Freeview services as new 4G services go live, until at least a year after the 98% indoor population coverage obligation for LTE Block C at 800 MHz (811-821 MHz), currently held by Telefónica UK (O2), is met.

 

[1] at800’s outbound satisfaction survey is completed by viewers after an at800 engineer visit. Since April 2014 89% of customers rated the service ‘throughout the whole process’ as excellent.

[2] This number is the total combined number for proactive and reactive filters. Separately the numbers are 977,833 proactive and 32,654 reactive.

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