Help at hand for TV viewers over loss of signal
5:30am Saturday 21st June 2014 in By Dominic Gilbert
TELEVISIONS in West Swindon suddenly went dark last month after stronger signals from a nearby 4G mast cut out their reception.
The 4G roll-out in May included an upgrade of the mast on Tewkesbury Way, and residents were left at a loss when terrestrial aerials were badly affected by the network surge in the area.
Engineers have now visited some properties, including in Park Springs, to install new aerials and filters to solve the problems, and anyone else experiencing disruption is asked to contact At800, a company set up to solve the issues.
Bart Hathaway, 90, of Park Springs, lost reception for at least two weeks.
“It all started when the mast was put into operation about five or six weeks ago,” he said. “We were watching the TV and suddenly everything just went blank. We were getting nothing.
“There is a complex of around 30 bungalows here, and those of us with terrestrial aerials have been affected. On examination they said the increased signal from the mobile monopole in Tewkesbury Way, about 100 metres from us, was affecting the aerial equipment.
“We were without television for about two weeks, and they have now come in and installed new aerials.”
Bart has been cut off from regional television news, as his local programming now comes from the east.
“The mast has destroyed our signal from the west of England, so we no longer get regional programming like BBC Points West, which we all enjoy,” he said.
“It is not only this block which is affected but also houses in the Westlea area. We are in the process of seeing what can be done, whether the aerial can be moved a little further away.”
Coun Jim Robbins, (Lab, Mannington and Western), has been assisting residents with their reception problems following the 4G roll-out.
“The 4G mast on Tewkesbury Way was upgraded from a 3G mast on May 7,” he said.
“About a week after that I got people from the area coming to me saying it was having a big impact on their television reception. We did a bit of research into the problem and spoke to the planning department about it.
“I got in touch with the agent who put the deal together, who gave me details for an organisation called At800. They were set up by all the 4G providers to support people if their reception is affected by the 4G masts. They were meant to have put a postcard round to all the householders who could be affected in the area, but have not done that in Park Springs or Toothill. It was a bit of a shock to them when their reception did not work.
“They have been pretty good so far, and have been round to a few houses to put special filters on the TVs, which seem to sort out the problem.
“The issues have been going on for around a month-and-a-half now. Vodafone have wanted to upgrade a number of masts as part of their 4G roll-out, and they were not expecting at that point for there to be interference.”
A spokesman for Vodafone said: “At800 is the independent organisation created to ensure that all UK viewers continue to receive Freeview, or are offered a suitable alternative, when 4G at 800MHz is activated in their area.
“At800 is funded by and represent the UK mobile operators licensed to offer 4G mobile services at 800 MHz: EE, Telefónica UK (O2), Three and Vodafone. They are also the ones who should provide the leafleting about upgrades in the area and help residents when they have an issue.”
Residents can call At800 on 03333 131800.