|Headquarters||Winchester, England, United Kingdom|
Arqiva // is a British telecommunications company which provides infrastructure and broadcast transmission facilities in the United Kingdom and Ireland, along with commercial WiFi and Smart Metering for Scotland and the north of England. The company headquarters is located at Crawley Court in the village of Crawley, Hampshire. Its main customers are broadcasters and mobile phone network operators, and its main asset is a network of over 1,000 radio and television transmission sites. It is owned by a consortium of investors led by CPP (Canadian Pension Plan) and the Australian investment house Macquarie Bank. Arqiva is a patron of The Radio Academy.
Through its NOW Digital subsidiary, it operates various local digital radio ensembles.
The company, which has a history that dates back to the beginning of regular public broadcasting in the United Kingdom, was actually only formed in 2005. Below is a potted history of the various organisations that are now part of Arqiva:
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Responsibility for the transmitter assets of the BBC lay solely within the corporation until 1997. The assets were then split into a separate company, prior to being sold.
The domestic transmitter network was purchased by a US company, Crown Castle, when it was privatised in 1997. Subsequently, in 2004, this was purchased by National Grid plc, which merged in its own private communication network, the name changing to National Grid Wireless in October 2005. Transmitters used by the BBC Overseas services were sold to a new startup company, called Merlin Communications
National Grid plc had a large internal network for the communication of its engineers serving initially the electricity companies, but subsequently, the gas industry as well. This company developed on the back of the growth in mobile phones, and its large portfolio of tower locations. This was added to by the purchase of the former BBC network (as above)
Independent Television Authority (ITA) / Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA)
The Television Act 1954 gave birth to the Independent Television Authority (ITA). The ITA appointed and regulated a number of regional programme contractors, and built and operated a network of transmitters.
The Sound Broadcasting Act 1972 created legal commercial radio in the UK for the first time. It was modelled on ITV, in that programmes were made by local contractors while the regulator, renamed the Independent Broadcasting Authority, owned and operated the transmitters.
ITC, RA and Transcom
The Broadcasting Act 1990 split the IBA into three bodies. The Independent Television Commission (ITC) regulated commercial TV and the Radio Authority (RA) regulated commercial radio. The IBA's engineering division, which operated the transmitters as well as doing research and development, became an independent company called National Transcommunications Limited (NTL), also known as "Transcom". At this point, technical standards regulation, previously carried out in accordance with the IBA engineering "Code of Practice", seems to have disappeared from the regulatory landscape.
CableTel, Simoco and NTL
Transcom was acquired by International CableTel Inc., which subsequently built its brand around the NTL name. It ran up huge debts during the dot-com boom which crippled the company for many years. In 1998, NTL acquired the UK antenna sites business of Simoco, a private mobile radio (PMR) company formed from Philips Telecom - PMR. In 1999 NTL acquired the UK field service operations business of Simoco. In 2004, NTL sold its 'broadcast unit' to Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group, but continued as a cable operator.
In January 2005, Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group renamed its new subsidiary Arqiva. Subsequently in July 2009, Macquarie sold off a substantial part of its holding and moved the remaining amount to its investment fund. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) now has a 48% holding and Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 2 (MEIF 2) has 21%, with other Macquarie Group funds holding 13%
Arqiva acquired Inmedia Communications from the Carlyle Group for £68.5 million in July 2005 to form the new Satellite Media Solutions business unit. Inmedia was owned by Kingston Communications and known as Kingston inmedia before being bought by the Carlyle Group in 2004.
Arqiva announced the signing of a Sale & Purchase Agreement (SPA) with BT to acquire the full-time service components of BT’s Satellite Broadcast Services business for £25 million in cash in November 2006. The deal will include long-term customer contracts, operations and personnel located in the USA, France, Italy and the Netherlands, as well as the UK. Deal completion is subject to regulatory approval in the UK and Germany.
National Grid Wireless
Arqiva purchased National Grid Wireless on 3 April 2007 for £2.5billion. The company planned to run NGW as a separate company – Macquarie UK Broadcast Ventures Ltd – pending review of the deal by competition regulators. Regulatory agreement was reached in late 2008 and National Grid Wireless was amalgamated into Arqiva. The new company employs around 2,300 people and operates all the TV and most of the radio transmitters in the UK (BBC national and local and many commercial stations). It is deemed to be a monopoly operator and as such is regulated by Ofcom.
Arqiva purchased PMSE band manager JFMG 19 February 2009. JFMG were contracted by communications regulator OFCOM to provide spectrum management and licensing services for programme making and special events (PMSE). In May 2015 Ofcom made the decision to end the contract with Arqiva and to insource the existing services.
OneVision DTT Licence application
Notable transmitter sites
- Digital One (A joint venture with GCap Media providing UK DAB - wholly owned by Arqiva since 11 February 2008)
- 2RN in Ireland
- VT Communications (Formerly Merlin Communications, formed from privatisation of BBC World Service transmitter sites.)
- "Specialists in WiFi services for businesses". Retrieved 2016-03-16.
- "O2 and Arqiva win £2.1bn smart meter contracts". Retrieved 2016-03-16.
- "Corporate Structure". Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- The Radio Academy "Patrons" Archived January 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- "NOW Digital Ltd - Who We Are". Retrieved November 7, 2012.
- "John Cresswell to head Arqiva". The Guardian. 11 January 2001. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- Dowell, Ben (6 July 2007). "Channel 4 wins radio multiplex bid - MediaGuardian.co.uk". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 7 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
- "About Us". arqiva.com. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "Arqiva and National Grid Wireless to create unfied UK communications infrastructure - Arqiva.com". Retrieved 2007-04-04.
- "Macquarie buys National Grid wireless for $4.9 bln". Reuters. Retrieved 3 April 2007.
- "BEIRG: Arqiva buys JFMG". beirg.co.uk. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "Ofcom transition".
- "OneVision wants DTT licence". The Irish Times. 1 May 2009. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
- "BBC News - Internet TV service Seesaw launches beta trial". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "Arqiva buys Spectrum Interactive to boost Wi-Fi range". Retrieved 2016-03-16.
- Pawley, Edward (1972). BBC Engineering 1922–1972. London, BBC. ISBN 0-563-12127-0
- Shacklady, Norman and Ellen, Martin (2003). On Air: A History of BBC Transmission. Wavechange Books. ISBN 0-9544077-1-7 (paperback) ISBN 0-9544077-0-9 (hardback).