Arqiva to build digital infrastructure in Gibraltar

Thursday, May 10th, 2012
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‘Design and build’ contract worth around £1 million; Digital TV and radio networks each with two multiplexes; Gibraltar benefits from Arqiva expertise gained in UK switchover

Arqiva has won a ‘design and build’ contract, valued at around £1 million, from the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (GRA) to provide a digital broadcasting network in Gibraltar. The contract comes as Arqiva nears completion of the five-year digital TV switchover in the UK, which has involved the £630m re-engineering of over 1150 sites and 1200 man-years of work.

The network in Gibraltar will comprise multiplexing and transmission for both digital TV and DAB digital radio. On each of two television multiplexes Gibraltar will be able to transmit up to six programme services. Similarly with digital radio, the two multiplexes will each allow for four separate services. This means a greater choice of programmes for residents and visitors, and that additional broadcasters could be licensed by the Gibraltar government.

In 2006, at a planning conference organised by the International Telecommunication Union, the GRA successfully co-ordinated with Spain, Morocco, Algeria and Portugal the use of channels 30 and 56 for digital television and channel blocks 12B and 12C for digital radio. The transmitters will be located at a single site on the Upper Rock, minimising the environmental impact of the antenna support structure which will replace two television transmission sites.

Steve Holebrook, managing director of Arqiva’s Broadcast & Media business, said: “Our work implementing the UK switchover provides an opportunity for Arqiva to help other countries go digital and benefit from the pioneering work we have done over the last five years or so. We’re delighted to bring digital broadcasting infrastructure to Gibraltar, with all the benefits to consumers, broadcasters, the regulator and government.

Paul Canessa, chief executive of the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority, added: “It’s very reassuring to have Arqiva building our new digital networks. It’s a big step for us and to have the acknowledged experts delivering our infrastructure means we can proceed towards our TV switchover with confidence.”

The digital broadcasting network will be operational by 31 December 2012, allowing Gibraltar to meet its international obligation to close down its analogue television transmissions by that date. There are no plans in Gibraltar to switch off FM radio.