Newtec and local integration company First Gulf Company have announced a partnership to implement the next-generation television and radio exchange network of the Saudi Arabian government's nationwide media transformation programme. The initiative involves an unprecedented deployment of satellite-based technology for a national infrastructure delivering television, radio and Intranet services.
The TV and Radio Exchange network will provide a solution for contribution between the studios and broadcast facilities located across the country, and for the exchange of radio and TV content between locations. The network's first stage of deployment will include HD-capable terminals and a central earth station pointed to Arabsat 5A, which successfully launched in June. The initial deployment will use Ku-band satellite bandwidth with the future option of Ka-band when the upcoming extra satellite capability becomes available.
"The provision of the best possible media and information infrastructure is a key priority for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," said Dr Riyadh Najm, assistant deputy minister for engineering at the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture and Information. "Our programme is now progressing well, and this radio and TV exchange implementation is a cornerstone of the infrastructure project, where we are pleased to work together with professional and experienced parties — an essential base."
Newtec's participation in the contract also contributes to the expansion of Saudi Arabia's capacity for Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) broadcasting, with the extra capacity being used both for migration to HD of the current channels, and to accommodate the first private broadcasters now appearing in the Kingdom. The DTT network will migrate from one single MFN bouquet to different SFN bouquets and will be entirely based on Newtec Horizon technology, with up to 80 DTT towers being added throughout the Kingdom. In addition, many SFN gap fillers will be added to expand indoor coverage. In-car, portable and indoor reception with a small antenna is critical for the acceptance of DTT in the country.
"Newtec's technology has made it possible to create a robust, highly efficient and advanced media infrastructure on a national scale. This is truly a groundbreaking project for the country, and First Gulf is proud to be playing its part," said Naim G. Saidi, deputy general manager and CEO of First Gulf Company.
Saudi Arabia's ambitious multi-year programme, overseen by the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information (MOCI), will transform national TV and radio media provision for the Kingdom's young and growing demographic. The programme will take in the entire broadcast chain, from digitisation of high-definition terrestrial TV, through expansion of TV and radio contribution/distribution infrastructure, outside broadcasting (OB) and satellite news gathering (SNG) vehicles, studios, production and post-production, to archiving and playout facilities.