Lattelecom Terrestrial to be Available Throughout Latvia by Year-End

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 
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Lattelecom’s Terrestrial TV services will be available throughout Latvia by the end of 2009, the company has announced. The system is being tested right now, and since March, it has been used to broadcast a number of Latvian television channels, including LTV1, LTV7, LNT and TV5, as well as one high-definition (HD) channel. At the end of April, Lattelecom will begin to test pay channels, as well. The national channels are available for free now and will remain free in future.

“We’re using the latest technologies for Lattelecom’s Terrestrial TV service, including the MPEG-4 format. People can watch more channels than is the case with analogue television, and the Lattelecom solution is one which ensures that the system will not require modernisation anytime in the foreseeable future,” says Lattelecom commercial director Jānis Ligers. He added that the Terrestrial TV signal will be broadcast in digital format so as to ensure a series of convenient and modern opportunities such as electronic TV schedules, choices for the language of audio and subtitles, as well as HD TV.

Lattelecom is also testing the decoders that will be needed by clients of Terrestrial TV services. Those who do not have MPEG-4 decoders should be in no rush to buy them, because Lattelecom will only finish testing them in May, and then it will publish a list of recommended decoders on its Internet page, complete with all relevant technical parameters.

In order to ensure 99% coverage for free television channels, the Latvian State Radio and Television Centre has been charged with installing transmitters in 16 cities and populated areas in Latvia by the end of this year. In order to establish two networks for pay TV, there will have to be 18 new transmitters in nine cities.

“This is a really tight schedule, and we’ve already launched procurement proceedings to buy additional antenna feeder systems, transmitters and other equipment that will be needed,” said the technical director of the Radio and Television Centre, Māris Rutks, at a press conference.

Lattelecom’s Terrestrial TV programme will offer free and fee-based channels. All domestic television channels will be presented for free, because that is the law. Lattelecom agrees that such channels must remain free. Other than that, Lattelecom plans to offer as many as 70 TV channels so that local residents can choose content in accordance with their interests and abilities. The first Lattelecom Terrestrial TV viewers will be in RÄ«ga. The services will then be offered in Kurzeme, then in Vidzeme, and finally and simultaneously in Zemgale and Latgale.

There won’t be cables or complicated communications systems in this process. Lattelecom is already forming partnerships in support of Lattelecom’s Terrestrial TV on a terrestrial basis. Complicated engineering and technologies would mean delays in the introduction of the new service, and it would mean substantially higher product costs for the user. Lattelecom has instead come up with a solution which guarantees that all that people will need will be a stationary antenna and a decoder. People with modern television sets won’t even need that, because the latest models receive the signal without any additional equipment.