Last updated

Industry Telecommunications
Services Transmissions

Arqiva ( /ɑːrˈkvə/ ) is a British telecommunications company which provides infrastructure, broadcast transmission and smart meter facilities [1] in the United Kingdom. The company headquarters is located at Crawley Court in the village of Crawley, Hampshire, just outside Winchester. Its main customers are broadcasters and utility companies, and its main asset is a network of circa. 1,500 radio and television transmission sites. [2] It is owned by a consortium of investors led by CPP (Canada Pension Plan) and the Australian investment house Macquarie Bank. [3] [4] Arqiva is a patron of the Radio Academy. [5]


Through its Now Digital subsidiary, it operates various local digital radio ensembles. [6]


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. [7] 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, [8] 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

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).

National Grid Wireless, as it became, led a consortium bidding for the second UK national DAB multiplex licence, but was unsuccessful. The licence was awarded instead to 4 Digital Group in July 2007. [9]

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 ITA, in that programmes were made by local contractors while the regulator, renamed the Independent Broadcasting Authority, owned and operated the transmitters.

ITC, Ofcom, Radio Authority 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, 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% [10]


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.

BT Broadcast

Arqiva announced the signing of a sale and 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 £2.5 billion. [11] 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 775 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. [12]


Arqiva purchased PMSE band manager JFMG 19 February 2009. [13] JFMG were contracted by communications regulator Ofcom to provide spectrum management and licensing services for programme making and special events (PSME). In May 2015 Ofcom made the decision to end the contract with Arqiva and to insource the existing services. [14]

Recent activity

OneVision DTT Licence application

During 2009, Arqiva were involved in the possibility of provision of digital pay TV in Ireland. [15]


In March 2010, Arqiva invested in and launched a catch-up Internet television, IPTV service called SeeSaw. [16] Subsequently the holding in the company was reduced to 25%.


In July 2012, Arqiva bought Spectrum Interactive, a wholesale only WiFi provider. [17]

In 2016, Arqiva sold its WiFi Business to Virgin Media [18]

Sale of telecommunications business

In October 2019, the company sold its telecommunication business to Cellnex. [19]

Notable transmitter sites

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap  
Download coordinates as: KML

See also

Related Research Articles

The Isle of Man has an extensive communications infrastructure consisting of telephone cables, submarine cables, and an array of television and mobile phone transmitters and towers.

Telecommunications in the United Kingdom have evolved from the early days of the telegraph to modern broadband and mobile phone networks with Internet services.

NTL Incorporated

NTL Incorporated, branded as ntl:, was a United States-listed British company founded in 1992, which provided cable television, cable internet and fixed-line cable telephone services. While NTL had its headquarters in New York City, the company's activities focused heavily on the United Kingdom, with operational headquarters in Hook, Hampshire.

Wireless Transfer of information or power that does not require the use of physical wires

Wireless communication is the transfer of information between two or more points that do not use an electrical conductor as a medium by which to perform the transfer. The most common wireless technologies use radio waves. With radio waves, intended distances can be short, such as a few meters for Bluetooth or as far as millions of kilometers for deep-space radio communications. It encompasses various types of fixed, mobile, and portable applications, including two-way radios, cellular telephones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and wireless networking. Other examples of applications of radio wireless technology include GPS units, garage door openers, wireless computer mouse, keyboards and headsets, headphones, radio receivers, satellite television, broadcast television and cordless telephones. Somewhat less common methods of achieving wireless communications include the use of other electromagnetic wireless technologies, such as light, magnetic, or electric fields or the use of sound.

Telecommunications towers in the United Kingdom are operated mainly by Arqiva. Arqiva operates the transmitters for UK terrestrial TV and most radio broadcasting, both analogue and digital. BT also operates a number of telecommunications towers in the UK.

Independent Broadcasting Authority Former British commercial television and radio regulator

The Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) was the regulatory body in the United Kingdom for commercial television – and commercial and independent radio broadcasts. The IBA came into being when the Sound Broadcasting Act 1972 gave the Independent Television Authority responsibility for organising the new Independent Local Radio (ILR) stations. The Independent Television Commission formally replaced the IBA on 1 January 1991 in regulatory terms; however, the authority itself was not officially dissolved until 2003.

Crystal Palace transmitting station Telecommunications site in Bromley, England

The Crystal Palace transmitting station, officially known as Arqiva Crystal Palace, is a broadcasting and telecommunications site in the Crystal Palace area of the London Borough of Bromley, England. It is located on the site of the former television station and transmitter, operated by John Logie Baird, from 1933.

Mercury Communications

Mercury Communications was a national telephone company in the United Kingdom, formed in 1981 as a subsidiary of Cable & Wireless, to challenge the then-monopoly of British Telecom (BT). Although it proved only moderately successful at challenging BT's dominance, it led the way for new communication companies to attempt the same.

Belmont transmitting station Broadcasting and telecommunications facility in Lincolnshire, England

The Belmont transmitting station is a broadcasting and telecommunications facility next to the B1225, one mile west of the village of Donington on Bain in the civil parish of South Willingham, near Market Rasen and Louth in Lincolnshire, England. It is owned and operated by Arqiva.

Digital terrestrial television in the United Kingdom encompasses over 100 television, radio and interactive services broadcast via the United Kingdom's terrestrial television network and receivable with a standard television set. The majority of digital terrestrial television (DTT) services, including the five former analogue channels, are broadcast free-to-air, and a further selection of encrypted pay TV services are also available.

Winter Hill transmitting station

The Winter Hill transmitting station is a broadcasting and telecommunications site on Winter Hill, at the southern boundary of the Borough of Chorley, Lancashire and above Bolton. It is owned and operated by Arqiva.

Tacolneston transmitting station

The Tacolneston transmitting station is a facility for both analogue and digital VHF/FM radio and UHF television transmission near Tacolneston, 11 miles (18 km) south-west of Norwich, Norfolk, England.

Rowridge transmitting station Telecommunications transmission site on the Isle of Wight, England

The Rowridge transmitting station is a facility for FM radio and television transmission at Rowridge on the Isle of Wight in southern England.

Chesterfield transmitting station

The Chesterfield transmitting station is a television and radio transmitter which serves the town of Chesterfield in Derbyshire and surrounding areas. It transmits digital television which it is line fed from Sheffield (Crosspool). The Chesterfield transmitter sits on a hillside to the north of the town and transmits digital television and radio services. Before the digital switchover, it was one of the few transmitters in the UK to transmit digital television, but not analogue channel Channel 5, and a number of its digital multiplexes were transmitted on the same channels as Emley Moor so it was not uncommon for co-channel interference to be an issue; similar problems still exist with Sutton Coldfield and Waltham. These co-channel issues with Emley meant that its output was attenuated to the North.

Digital radio in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the roll-out of digital radio has been proceeding since engineering test transmissions were started by the BBC in 1990 followed by a public launch in September 1995. The UK currently has one of the world's biggest digital radio networks, with about 500 transmitters, three national DAB ensembles and 48 local and regional DAB ensembles broadcasting over 250 commercial and 34 BBC radio stations across the UK. In London there are already more than 100 different digital stations available. In addition to DAB and DAB+, radio stations are also broadcast on digital television platform as well as internet radio in the UK. Digital radio ensemble operators and stations need a broadcasting licence from the UK's media regulator Ofcom to broadcast.

Sandy Heath transmitting station

Sandy Heath transmitting station is a television broadcast station located between Sandy, Bedfordshire and Potton near the B1042. It is owned by Arqiva, formerly NTL Broadcast. It was built in 1965, originally broadcasting Anglia Television on VHF 405-lines, UHF with 625-line services of BBC2, BBC1, and Anglia Television being added by January 1971. It carried Channel 4 and Channel 5 from their launch days, Channel 5 at lower power than the other four services. Today it broadcasts digital television on the DTT platform as Digital Switchover took place on 13 April 2011. On 17 June 2018, as part of the 700MHz clearance, Com5 moved from Ch52 to Ch36 ,Com7 moved from Ch32 to Ch55 and Com8 moved from Ch34 to Ch56

Storeton transmitting station

Storeton transmitting station is a television transmitter being a member of both the Winter Hill group of transmitters and of the Moel-y-Parc group of transmitter, and an FM radio transmitter, with transmitting antennas affixed to a mast located on Storeton Ridge, Higher Bebington, Wirral, UK. The site is owned and operated by Arqiva. It was originally solely an analogue TV relay of the Winter Hill transmitter and the only Winter Hill relay to carry all five analogue TV channels prior to digital switchover. The 45 metre-high (150 ft-high) mast is situated at an elevation of 65.5 metres (215 ft). Thus, the top of the mast has an overall height of 110.5 metres (363 ft) above sea level. Construction of the mast was completed in 1980. As of 2009, the TV transmitter serves approximately 45,000 homes.

Emley Moor transmitting station Telecommunications and broadcasting facility in West Yorkshire, England

The Emley Moor transmitting station is a telecommunications and broadcasting facility on Emley Moor, 1 mile (1.6 km) west of the village centre of Emley, mid-way between the villages of Kirkburton and West Bretton, in turn between Huddersfield and Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England. It is made up of a 330.4-metre (1,084-foot) concrete tower and apparatus that began to transmit in 1971. It is protected under UK law as a Grade II listed building. It is the tallest freestanding structure in the United Kingdom, and 24th tallest tower in the world. It was the seventh tallest freestanding structure and was fourth tallest tower in the European Union before Brexit.

Kilvey Hill transmitting station

The Kilvey Hill transmitting station was originally built at the summit of Kilvey Hill in Swansea, Wales, by the BBC in 1967 as a relay for VHF and UHF television. VHF television came on air a few months before the UHF services. As built, the station did not radiate VHF FM radio, this was added later. Currently, the hill's transmitters cater for viewers and listeners in the Swansea and Neath Port Talbot area. The transmission station located on top of Kilvey Hill is owned and operated by Arqiva.

Wireless microphones may operate over various frequencies, licensed or unlicensed depending upon the country.


  1. "O2 and Arqiva win £2.1bn smart meter contracts" . Retrieved 2016-03-16.
  2. "Arqiva at a glance - Connecting people and organisations". Arqiva. Retrieved 2020-04-17.
  3. "Corporate Structure" . Retrieved 2009-04-23.
  4. "Our Shareholders". Arqiva. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  5. "Patrons". The Radio Academy. Archived from the original on January 7, 2010.
  6. "NOW Digital Ltd - Who We Are". Archived from the original on 2012-11-16. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  7. "John Cresswell to head Arqiva". The Guardian. 11 January 2001. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  8. "National Grid buys TV masts firm". 2004-06-28. Retrieved 2020-04-17.
  9. Dowell, Ben (6 July 2007). "Channel 4 wins radio multiplex bid -". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 7 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
  10. "About Us". Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  11. "Arqiva and National Grid Wireless to create unified UK communications infrastructure -". Archived from the original on 2007-06-02. Retrieved 2007-04-04.
  12. "Macquarie buys National Grid wireless for $4.9 bln". Reuters. Retrieved 3 April 2007.
  13. "BEIRG: Arqiva buys JFMG". Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  14. "Ofcom transition".[ permanent dead link ]
  15. "OneVision wants DTT licence". The Irish Times . 1 May 2009. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  16. "BBC News - Internet TV service Seesaw launches beta trial". Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  17. "Arqiva buys Spectrum Interactive to boost Wi-Fi range" . Retrieved 2016-03-16.
  18. "Arqiva confirms sale of WiFi business to Virgin Media" . Retrieved 2016-09-08.
  19. "Arqiva reaches agreement to sell its Telecoms division to Cellnex for £2.0bn". Arqiva. 2 June 2020. Retrieved 2 May 2020.