Arqiva Satellite Media Solutions has installed a new HD ready television playout suite at its Chalfont Grove Media Centre.

The new facility will play out combinations of HD and SD channels. Arqiva currently plays out over 60 channels and the new suite will increase that capacity to include up to eight HD channels.

The investment in new infrastructure has been prompted by an increased interest in the HD market.

John Bozza, director of sales at Arqiva's Satellite Media Solutions division, said: “The new playout suite will put Arqiva in a strong position to service the growth of the high definition broadcast market.

"Our investment in this new technology demonstrates our commitment to supporting broadcasters in their ambition to upgrade to high definition channel playout and distribution.”

Building has already commenced and the new suite will be ready for action from April 2008.

Some key facts:

  • The key differentiator between HD and SD is the size of bandwidth required to carry each signal: 1.5Gb for an HD channel compared to 270Mb for an SD channel.

  • The new playout suite will accommodate HD bandwidth requirements, provide for the addition of HD-level graphics and incorporate Dolby 5.1 surround sound.

  • Each channel has full redundancy, with two architecturally independent play outs of each single channel.

  • Content, including HD, can be delivered and ingested in any file type according to the customer's preference.

  • The playout suite is connected to a digital archive which allows ingested content to be electronically stored for immediate access, adaptation and re-use. It also enables HD content to be easily converted to an SD format.

Arqiva provides outside broadcast, satellite newsgathering, studios, playout, satellite distribution and terrestrial transmission services.

The company has ten international satellite teleports, over 60 other manned locations, and around 3500 shared radio sites throughout the UK and Ireland including masts, towers and rooftops from under 30 to over 300 metres tall.

The company is owned by a consortium of investors led by Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group and has five operating divisions: Terrestrial Media Solutions, Satellite Media Solutions, Mobile Media Solutions, Wireless Solutions and Public Safety.

Customers include ITV, Channel 4, Five, the BBC, BSkyB, Classic FM, the five UK mobile operators, the RNLI and the Metropolitan Police.