Lattelecom Introduces Terrestrial TV

Thursday, August 13th, 2009 
Lattelecom logo

Lattelecom has introduced Terrestrial TV, thus beginning the transfer from analogue to digital television broadcasts. European Union law states that Latvia must complete this transition by 2012.

“Latvia, like all of Europe and the rest of the world, is moving from analogue to digital broadcasting, and this is only natural and inevitable. Black-and-white TV was at one time replaced by colour TV, and analogue signals are now being replaced by Terrestrial TV. I am delighted that the Lattelecom team completed the first phase of this project very quickly, and right now Lattelecom Terrestrial TV is available in a 70 kilometre radius around RÄ«ga,” says Lattelecom board chairman Juris Gulbis.

As had been promised, Lattelecom began a commercial pilot project related to Terrestrial TV in June 2009. Experts from the company and several thousand initial clients have been testing the quality of Terrestrial TV for several weeks now so as to ensure the quality of the service. Particular attention is being focused on the delivery process, as well as technical services. The service is available at this time in RÄ«ga and 70 kilometres around the city. This includes Tukums, Bauska, Saulkrasti and Dobele.

“To be sure, any changes create certain worries, but I want to encourage people by saying that nothing is being taken away from them. We are simply offering new opportunities. I want to talk about the main benefits here – a new level of quality, the ability to receive many more TV channels, and very good prices, too. That comes at a time when it is very important for people to balance their budget very frugally,” says Gulbis.

“New technologies have always been driving force for the development of societies and economies. Latvia has taken a great step forward today, and it is a leap forward for Latvia’s society. I am delighted that Lattelecom, in partnership with the Latvian State Radio and Television Centre, has introduced Terrestrial TV,” said Transportation Minister Kaspars Gerhards at a press conference today.

Clients of Lattelecom Terrestrial TV can watch five free channels with digital quality – LTV1, LTV7, LNT, TV5, and TV3. Clients need a stationary antenna and an MPEG4 TV receiver. Modern TV sets have that receiver installed already. A separate Terrestrial TV receiver costs LVL 39. The equipment is available at all Lattelecom client service centres. It can also be ordered easily on the Internet.

Additional free channels can be received with a room or roof antenna and the digital TV receiver. There are also pay channels that are available. In that case the client will need a smart card. Lattelecom offers an Economic Programme in addition to the free channels (11 channels in addition to the free ones for LVL 3.50 a month), and the Basic Programme (30 channels, LVL 6.90 a month). Beginning next week, people will be able to rent the receivers if an agreement is signed for 24 months and the client subscribes to the Economic or Basic Programme. Then the rental fee for the receiver is LVL 1.99 a month.

The hundreds of thousands of people who are watching analogue television with the help of a room or roof antenna will now find it much cheaper to watch many foreign channels that have been available only through cable or satellite services. This includes Discovery, Animal Planet, National geographic, Eurosport, BBC Prime, Fox Crime, and others.

“This is the most complicated and important project in the history of the Latvian State Radio and Television Centre, and it is also of great importance at the national level. Digital television will affect the entire Latvia society by expanding the information environment to a considerable degree. Experience in other European countries shows that people’s habits will change. The transfer to digital TV will also promote the country’s economic development, which is particularly important during the current era of economic decline,” argues the technical director of the centre, Māris Rutks.

People who wish to learn more about Terrestrial TV or order antennae or receivers are asked to visit www.lattelecom.lv and click on the Terrestrial TV section. Applications can be filed electronically there. Antennae and receivers can also be bought at all Lattelecom client service centres and shops, as well as by ringing the Client Service Line on 177.

The next phase in the implementation of Terrestrial TV will begin at the end of this year, and it will involve the provision of such services all around Latvia. The Cabinet of Ministers approved Lattelecom as the exclusive provider of digital terrestrial TV services early in 2009. Since then, Lattelecom has invested approximately LVL 1.3 million in the project.

Latvia is one of the last countries in Europe to implement digital TV, and over the next two years, all of the people in Latvia will have to gradually transfer from digital to digital services.