As Italy starts to build out its LTE networks, the country has determined how operators should tackle the question of interference.
Earlier this week, the Italian Council of State approved draft proposals setting out how mobile carriers have to solve the problem interference between LTE and digital television signals. According to the ruling, three of the country's main mobile operators (Wind Telecomunicazioni, Vodafone and Telecom Italia) will have to bear the full cost of installing the filters required to fix the problem, known as Cei 100-7, on TV antennas across the country.
The Council of State's ruling means that all complaints from individuals about interference will be handled by the Ugo Bordoni Foundation, an ICT and telecoms cultural and research organisation. Mobile operators that don't cover the costs of filter installations as mandated by the Ugo Bordoni Foundation will be subject to heavy sanctions.
Back in June 2011, the Italian government published a call in the Gazzetta Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana for bids for LTE licences. All four major Italian operators (Vodafone Italia, Telecom Italia, Wind and Three) took part in the bidding for spectrum in the 800MHz, 1800 MHZ and 2600MHz bands. Wind, Vodafone and Telecom were assigned two blocks each in the 800Mhz band (which guarantees better coverage with fewer antennas); Vodafone, Telecom Italia and Three got one block each in the 1800Mhz; and both Wind and Three were assigned four blocks in the 2600Mhz, while Telecom and Vodafone were assigned three blocks.
The 800MHz blocks, considered more desirable by operators for their propagation properties, were those freed up after local TV companies made the switch to digital television.
However, as a result of LTE signals in the band, some TV users may experience interference on one or more channels, known as selective interference, or a blacking out of all channels – a problem known as saturation.
The ruling, which will be valid from the day following its publication in the Gazzetta Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana through to the end of 2016, says that the cost of the filters will be shared by the three operators who were assigned frequencies in the 800MHz band: Wind will take on 50 percent of total costs, while Vodafone and Telecom will each cover 25 percent. Wind will have to cover a larger share, as the frequencies it was assigned are known as "dirty frequencies" - those closest to the frequencies used for digital television.