Verizon LTE Phones & Time Warner Cable Set-Top Boxes Are Not Playing Nicely With Each Other

WRAL's demonstration of the problem. The top screen shows the over-the-air feed for the station. The bottom screen shows what happens when a Verizon customer gets a text message in the same room as the set-top box (see below for full clip).

WRAL’s demonstration of the problem. The top screen shows the over-the-air feed for the station. The bottom screen shows what happens when a Verizon customer gets a text message in the same room as the set-top box (see below for full clip).

Some Time Warner Cable customers in Raleigh, NC, who also have Verizon Wireless phone service have noticed that whenever they get an e-mail, text, or otherwise use their phone, the TV signal can go squirrely on them. This is apparently what can happen when a cable company broadcasts channels on the same broadband spectrum used by wireless service.

Last month, Sam Matheny, the VP of policy and innovation at WRAL-TV in North Carolina not only noticed the problem when his cable and wireless service began to clash, but wrote an editorial about it for the company’s website, explaining that TWC had recently moved some TV channels to new spectrum assignments within their system, and that those assignments were in conflict with Verizon’s use of the 700 MHz spectrum for its LTE service.

He even made a video demonstrating how bad the problem can be:

“Cable set top boxes (at least the models we have) lack the appropriate shielding to block interference from other devices,” wrote Matheny. “In fairness, until recently the 700MHz band wasn’t being used by devices like cell phones, so this wouldn’t have been a problem.”

But now it is a problem, and TV viewers in the Raleigh area have been complaining about being unable to have their phones in the same room as their TV when watching certain channels.

A rep for TWC recently told Ars Technica that the problem is currently relegated to Raleigh and to WRAL. The cable company says it is changing the spectrum assignment of the station so that it will no longer interfere with LTE signals.

As much as a pain in the butt as this might have been for WRAL viewers, let’s hope that other cable companies and wireless providers keep this case in mind as phones increasingly move to the 700 MHz spectrum. If cable operators are smart, they’ll preemptively move channels out of that spectrum and keep them out. Otherwise, we’re only going to hear further complaints from people in other parts of the country and with other cable/wireless providers.

Spectrum battle puts 4G, cable in conflict [WRAL]

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  1. StevenPierce says:

    Comcast Xfinity cable modems also don’t play well with Sprint Airave femtocell signal extenders. Neither Sprint nor Comcast will say why but it flat out doesn’t work. The problem is the Xfinity box won’t hand out an IP address to the Airave box.

    To solve the problem, you need to install a second router in-between the Xfinity modem and the Airave.

    6 hours of my life wasted trying to figure this out.

    Comcast Xfinity

    http://customer.comcast.com/help-and-support/internet/setup-a-wireless-network/

    Sprint Airave

    http://now.sprint.com/airave/?ECID=vanity:airave