Is LTE interference a big problem with antennas?

It’s getting to be a bigger and bigger problem. We all want a great wireless data experience but we don’t want to give up over-the-air antenna TV. Unfortunately, the same frequencies that work great for TV also work great for wireless data. The FCC actually took away some frequencies from TV in order to create the first wireless LTE data bands, but no one at the FCC went up to your roof to tell your antenna that. So yes, LTE interference can be a big problem.

This is my personal antenna on my personal roof. It’s as old as I am.
Let’s look at why that is. First of all you have to realize that there are millions of people who use old antennas up on their roofs. They’re well-built, they “came with the house” and they honestly do a great job. So what’s the big deal? They’re not designed for today’s TV broadcasting.

A big yagi antenna like you see there will pick up everything from VHF channel 2 to UHF channel 83, or if you prefer to think in terms of broadcast frequencies, from 55MHz to 890MHz. Only problem is, a lot of those frequencies aren’t used anymore. In most markets, there isn’t any TV broadcasting below channel 7 (174MHz) and the FCC has stopped all TV broadcasting above channel 50 (692MHz.) So a lot of that antenna isn’t doing you any good, which hasn’t been a problem… until recently.

The frequencies that used to be known as channels 51-83 are now used for other things. Advances in TV broadcasting (especially digital TV) mean there doesn’t have to be as much space between channels so the same number of channels can fit in a smaller space. A lot of that space that was used for TV is now used for wireless data. In fact, the FCC is looking at a plan that would possibly eliminate even more channels so that you could have even more wireless data.

Because, people want more streaming.

It’s pretty likely that the old antenna on your roof is already picking up LTE frequencies in the 700MHz range, but it hasn’t been a big deal. Your TV ignores these signals pretty easily…

… but that’s changing. With more and more cell towers put in place, LTE signals are getting stronger and stronger and it’s getting to the point where they’re interfering with regular TV signals. See, even though you’re not even trying to tune those LTE signals on your TV, they’re so strong that they could cause problems. If you’re using an amplifier, the signals could burn that amp out or cause it to automatically step down to avoid damage.

There’s another problem too. It’s a lot of physics and theory, but broadcasting can also affect channels other than the ones that are intended. If you broadcast at 500MHz, you could also potentially get interference at 250MHz, 125MHz, even 62.5MHz. So those 700MHz signals, if they’re powerful enough, could be causing problems with other channels much further down the line.

The answer is a new antenna with LTE filtering built in, like the new ones from Televes. They’re designed from the ground up to resist those stronger LTE signals. You could put a filter on your older antenna but it wouldn’t work as well. You really need an antenna that’s designed to combat this problem. I’ll admit that not everyone is going to need something like this, and you may not realize when you do need it. You just may have some random problems with interference and you may not know why. So, perhaps it’s time to think about a new antenna that has this technology built in. Why not get ahead of the problem?

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.