Help Topics

Interference from Radio Communications

   amateurradio

This can often happen due to a poor or broken installation. The interference can come from a variety of sources. Two of the commonest are radio amateurs / CB enthusiasts, and digital communications (‘TETRA').

What to do

Firstly, ensure your own installation is in good order.  Poor connections and joints can be 'entry points' for interfering signals; if you use a booster to overcome a weak signal (e.g. from a loft aerial) it may be more susceptible than using a bigger aerial mounted in a better position.  If in doubt we would recommend using a professional installer who can make sure your installation isn't at fault and may even be able to help identify the type of interference.

Next, try removing pieces of equipment in the chain (such as PVR or DVD) in case one of these is susceptible.  Try swapping interconnecting leads.  Cheap ones can be poorly screened, allowing an 'entry point' for interference.  If you have a second TV or radio, check whether this is affected.

If the problem persists, start keeping a log of when the problem occurs and which channels are disrupted.  Ask your neighbours to do likewise if they are also affected.

If you are happy that your installation isn't faulty, and you think you know the source of the problem, consider approaching the person politely. A short test will show if they are affecting your reception. Most radio amateurs will try to help you solve the problem. Because most cases of interference are due to breakthrough within your own equipment, filters can often help. Again, many radio amateurs carry a stock of these but for more information see our Filters page.

Interference from radio amateurs or CB enthusiasts

If you have identified a radio amateur or CB enthusiast whose radio transmissions you think may be causing problems, please be aware of the following:

  • The person responsible may well be unaware that they are causing a problem.
  • Problems are most often caused by 'breakthrough' due to an undue sensitivity to unwanted signals in the affected TV or radio, perhaps due to a fault in your installation.  It is rarely due to a fault in the transmitter. Check our breakthrough page for more information.
  • The person who is transmitting may not be ‘at fault' if they are operating within their licence terms. 
  • Neighbours may well be suffering problems too.  If they are, it is less likely that you have a fault in your own installation, so checking this could save time and expense.

Occasionally the radio amateur will be willing to modify his activities if tests show that it helps, but this is not a requirement unless enforced by Ofcom.

If there is no progress either because of lack of co-operation or because attempts at solving haven't worked, you can contact the RTIS. If the radio amateur or CB enthusiast is willing to talk to us, please pass on their contact number so we can discuss any measures already tried.

Please remember that problems can often be solved by a courteous, non-accusatory approach. Radio amateurs don't want to cause problems in the neighbourhood and are glad when they can be resolved without acrimony. However, you should not approach someone if you have reason to believe you are putting yourself or your neighbours at risk in any way. Instead, please speak to RTIS.

Ultimately, if all other approaches fail, RTIS can ask Ofcom to investigate but this is always regarded as a last resort.

Digital Communications Interference (‘TETRA')

This appears when a new communications aerial or mast is switched on in areas where viewers are using TV masthead amplifiers. Break-up or complete failure can occur on Freeview TV for periods of a few seconds upwards, usually interspersed with longer periods of good reception. These problems are not affected by changes in the weather, will have started suddenly, and often affect neighbours. Moreover, they only tend to happen if you use a masthead amplifier, and are basically a form of breakthrough.

The solution is to ask an aerial installer to fit a filter to the masthead amplifier, having ascertained that this is the cause of the problem.

For help with aerials we would recommend using a professional installer. We cannot recommend individual installers but you may wish to seek advice from a recognised industry body, such as the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI). Alternatively visit the Website of Registered Digital Installers (RDI) http://www.getmedigital.com/ Get Me Digital is the consumer site of the RDI, created to promote digital installation and digital service providers directly to the consumer.

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