Malta - GO invests 2.3 million Euros in new TV infrastructure

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007
GO p.l.c. logo

GO’s digital terrestrial TV covering 95% of Maltese households

GO p.l.c. has just completed a major upgrade project for its digital terrestrial television (DTTV) network with the result that coverage has been extended to cover 95% of households in Malta and Gozo and the quality of transmission has been improved. The investment for this project amounted to 2.3 million Euros. Moreover new channels will be added to the GO Plus line-up in the coming weeks.

This was announced by David Kay, Chief Executive Officer of GO, during the official launch of the new GO Plus TV headend in Maghtab.

The investment in this upgrade covered the new headend as well as new transmitting facilities at the Naxxar tower. The extended reach of GO’s DTTV is also underpinned by a number of repeaters around Malta and Gozo. GO Plus TV subscribers in Gozo have also benefited from upgraded reception after a repeater was recently installed at the multi-function telecommunications tower in Nadur. As a result of the project, apart from the improved coverage, GO can now better utilize its resources so that additional TV channels may be added to the channel line-up.

Mr Kay said: “Since February of this year, when we took over the DTTV operator, we have invested a lot in our TV infrastructure and content acquisition. On the network side, there has been a lot of work to improve coverage, and in certain areas it is possible to get the signal from an indoor antenna, making the service easily portable to another residence – and even a boat.”

“The TV upgrade further enhances GO’s reputation as the leading telecoms operator in the Maltese Islands. On the basis of this multi-million Euro investment, GO is reinforcing its position in the marketplace by ensuring that it has the newest technology backed up by its suppliers for years to come,” Mr Kay said.

“With a strategy of offering fixed line telephony, mobile telephony and broadband Internet, GO is geared to offer its clients a total telecoms solution. And now with its TV product, GO prides itself as being the first telecoms company in Malta with a quad-play offering, which translates in a range of value-for-money services for all of GO’s customers,” he said

Joseph Bugeja, Technical Director at GO said: “Following a lot of planning and coordination, everything just came into place in the second week of August when Portomaso transmission equipment was upgraded, the tower at Naxxar extended and new transmission equipment installed at the Naxxar radio station.”

Consequently a new headend was built at the recently refurbished premises at our Maghtab earth station complex. The headend facility includes new signal reception services, a new encoding setup and a-state-of-the-art monitoring and control station.

“We now have state-of-the-art digital equipment to maximise bandwidth,” explained Ing. Bugeja. “We are the second or third in the world to have such a new system, provided by Tandberg, which is future proof and ready-to-handle mobile TV and IPTV-broadcast-quality TV channels over Internet.”

Mr Bugeja said GO is actively seeking to benefit from new frequencies for the launch in the near future of high-definition (HD) TV channels, which require three to five times more bandwidth than the current digital channels. Moreover, the company is still actively working on the IPTV project which would give more interactivity to the TV experience.

GO’s Chief Commercial Officer Keith Fearne said that GO Plus has launched an intensive plan of action and, in the coming weeks and months, will be enhancing its line up of channels with additional stations and programming for the benefit of its customers.

“GO has made considerable inroads in the local pay TV market, especially due to its value-for-money packages and the wide choice of local and international TV stations available. We have now reached the 20,000 subscriber mark, and the numbers are still growing,” Mr Fearne said.
GO Plus is working on enhancing the TV viewer experience with a high-quality electronic programme guide (EPG). It is also experimenting with secondary languages on channels where this is available and transmitting radio stations to complement the TV package.

On the new headend setup, GO has worked closely with its newly-appointed strategic provider of multi-platform video-processing solutions, Tandberg Television – owned by Ericsson. Tandberg Television has provided GO Plus with a wide range of advanced digital video technologies enabling it to roll out live and on-demand digital TV services. Tandberg’s outstanding expertise and experience in video technologies and systems integration has helped GO Plus to deploy a digital infrastructure that is cutting edge and geared to support the provision of advanced digital media solutions. Tandberg’s system is scaleable and can expand to support the introduction of modern-day, exciting services including mobile TV and IPTV in the not-so-distant future.

Meanwhile, the DTTV transmission project was carried out in collaboration with international firm Electrosys, which was selected on grounds of the company’s excellent track record in supplying solutions adapted to the local environment. Electrosys is a worldwide market leader in the manufacturing of digital transmission equipment and boasts over 15,000 broadcasting and telecommunication system installations in more than 130 countries across the world.

The GO Plus TV service uses a high-end digital terrestrial (DVB-T) set-top box. The box has an in-built modem and can provide digital Dolby surround. It enables customers to receive all the free-to-view transmissions. In addition, its Conditional Access Module allows access to optional Pay TV and Pay-per-View services. In addition to the STB, customers will also need a GO Smart Card and a small aerial, which can be installed by a GO technician.

All GO post-paid telephone customers (those receiving a bill for their fixed line) can get Free+ with no monthly rate and only Lm1 (€2.33) monthly service access fee, and the set-top box for free. This gives GO Plus TV customers access to a minimum of 16 channels including TVM, Net TV, One TV, Education 22, UTV, Rai 1, Rai 2, Rai 3, Italia 1, Canale 5, Rete 4, La 7, Sat2000, World Fashion Channel, Euronews and CNN.

Customers can opt to upgrade to Silver+ at Lm5 (€11.65) a month or Gold+ at Lm9 (€20.96) a month, in addition to the Lm1 (€2.33) monthly service access fee. Silver+ gives customers access to no less than 35 channels, including top international channels offering music, news, documentaries, sports, cartoons and many others channels. Silver+ includes the Free+ line-up as well as all Discovery Channel stations, Eurosport and Eurosport 2, MTV and VH1, Cartoon Network, Cartoon Network Too, Boomerang and Nickelodeon, E! Entertainment, Living TV, BBC World and BBC Prime, CNBC and Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

The next option is the GO Plus Gold+ package with a line-up of 48 channels, inclusive of all channels in the Silver+ package in addition to channels such as Baby TV, Biography Channel, ESPN Classics, History Channel, Trouble, Wine TV, Motors TV, Trace TV, Nat Geo Wild, Sailing Channel and Sky News.

Customers can also opt for the Sports+ channels.