Leeds spin-out company to protect TV's from new 4G mobile interference

Faculty of Engineering electronics spin-out company, Filtronic has landed a £14m order to protect TVs from interference when the next generation mobile phone network is rolled out across the UK.

The Newton Aycliffe business has been recruited by a Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (DMSL), a company made up of the mobile network businesses, to produce “mitigation filters” which will stop the new 4G mobile signal interfering with TV signals. An estimated two million UK homes are expected to be affected by the interference.

Filtronic chief executive Alan Needle said: “They have to solve the problem. They are issuing filters to put on the back of TVs and that will also apply across Europe. “The same problem will exist in other countries in Europe.”

The £14m contract, which will take three to four months for the initial UK order, is being carried out by Filtronic’s team in Leeds. The company is taking on a small number of additional engineers to complete the order and is also moving into bigger premises to make the filters.

Filtronic unveiled the new order as it published results for the six months to November, which showed a 56% jump in turnover thanks to soaring sales from its wireless division.

Revenues increased to £16.4m compared to £10.5m in the first half of the previous year, and the business reported an operating profit, before exceptionals, of £0.1m, compared to a £1.2m loss last time. However, Filtronic also made a pre-tax loss of £1.2m, which it said was an accounting rather than a cash loss and was in line with the previous half year.

The company is split into wireless and broadband divisions making products for wireless and point-to- point communication equipment. Sales in wireless more than doubled from £5.2m to £11.9m, while broadband sales dipped from £5.3m last year to £4.5m this time.

Chief financial officer, Mike Brennan, said: “Wireless is driving the growth – for a third half in a row, we have grown by more than half in wireless. Broadband is in transition.”

Wireless sales jumped by 129% and accounted for 73% of the group’s turnover, mainly because of the US 4G roll out picking up speed. Filtronic said the 16% fall in broadband sales was “disappointing” but that both Eband radio and defence products will start to be produced in volume in the final quarter of this financial year, following earlier delays.

Chairman, Howard Ford, said: “Overall, the board anticipates that stronger than expected wireless results will more than compensate for the shortfall in broadband, and that group performance will be ahead of current market estimates for both turnover and profits, with wireless sales likely to represent nearly 80% of total group revenues for FY 2013.”

Analysts Panmure Gordon & Co said: “The big picture is the roll out of LTE (long term evolution 4G) and Filtronic’s leadership position.

“We expect momentum to accelerate through 2013 and 2014 as other regional operators catch up.”