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Charlie asked: “I’ve been having trouble with my television reception lately. Sometimes it goes out completely for 5-20 minutes. Sometimes it’s heavily pixelated. Some are better than others. Even my best channel occasionally gets issues. I’m 5 miles from the TV transmitter and 1/2 a mile from my house, between me and the TV tower, there’s a cell tower. I I’m wondering if you know anything about 4G LTE television interference that might be going on.”
Charlie, in most densely populated areas, no. LTE tends to be operated at frequencies that are much higher than TV broadcasts and there is no overlap, however, it actually is possible.
In some areas, some operators have gotten permission to use some VHF and UHF bands for LTE communications. That has happened mostly in rural areas, but you may be suffering from that problem.
Just so we’re clear, there technically shouldn’t be a problem, but given how close you live to the frequencies, it’s not impossible that you’re seeing interference from the tower.
There is a thing that’s referred to as “the digital dividend” that is a spectrum redistribution to make room for LTE communications. The idea was to switch over from analog communications to digital communications, those take up less room in the spectrum, then shrink the footprint of the spectrum assigned to TV since they can now fit the same amount of content in a smaller part of the spectrum, and finally to repurpose those newly freed frequencies for other modern uses like LTE.
Your TV providers are not using the frequencies that cellphone tower may or may not be using. However, if it is using the new bands that were made available to cellphone providers, then it may be using a band that is much closer to the TV spectrum then the old ones were.
Also, we have encountered situations where a cell tower, even though it was broadcasting on different frequencies, used so much power that it interfered with radio equipment that it shouldn’t have bothered.
Especially when there aren’t other cell towers close by for a handoff, as is the case in rural settings, sometimes these towers, for lack of a better metaphor, “shout.”
So there are a couple of issues that might be causing you some trouble. Because 5 miles is definitely not too far for over the air TV signals to travel.