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Arqiva begins work on temporary mast at Bilsdale site

  • Work under way to build a temporary mast which is expected to restore signals to over 90% of affected households
  • Video update posted from site

Arqiva, the leading UK communications infrastructure and media services provider, can confirm that work has commenced on the temporary mast at its Bilsdale site.

A team of around 100 people began construction work at Bilsdale yesterday (Monday 13 September) with materials being transported into place and ground preparation began for the mast’s installation. The team are working at pace to clear the site and put foundations in place for the ground-based transmission equipment.

Once operational, the 80m-high temporary mast is expected to provide Freeview TV signals to an area covering over 90% of households which were served by the existing Bilsdale mast, which was damaged by fire on August 10.

The clearance includes excavating heather after which the area will be re-seeded. Stone used on site has also had to be specially selected to ensure the right levels of acidity for the surrounding environment.

Arqiva’s priority is now on working with organisations across the affected area including local councils, housing associations and charities to reach and support those who may remain without signal following the mast build, and to prioritise the most vulnerable people affected.

Adrian Twyning, Chief of Operations at Arqiva, said: “We are working 24/7 to restore services to as many people as possible across the North-East and North Yorkshire. This is complex work, involving multiple agencies and highly skilled teams. We are fully committed to the task at hand.”

A video is available of initial construction activity on site and can be viewed here

Further updates on the work to restore service will follow.

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Notes to Editors:

  • The Bilsdale mast is the tenth tallest structure in the UK at 314m (1030ft) tall. (Arqiva operates nine out of the top ten).
  • At a total of 685m (2260ft) above sea level, it is one of the highest in the UK.
  • The tubular structure weighs approximately 500tonnes.
  • The Bilsdale transmitter provides Digital Terrestrial TV along with digital and FM radio signals to the area, including:

PSB1, 2, 3, COM4, 5, 6, 7 & LTV – Television multiplexes

BBC Radios 1-4, Radio Tees & BBC DAB

SDL, MuxCO North Yorkshire DAB, BAUER Teeside, Digital 1

TFM, Capital, Heart & Classic FM

  • It also provides mobile phone and other ancillary services that require a broad reach.
  • According to Freeview, more than 500,000 households are served by the mast
  • Not all of these households are solely reliant on Freeview for TV services (being able to access online services/players, the Freeview app, Freesat or subscription satellite or cable services).
  • Within nine days of the fire Arqiva had returned some Freeview television services to around 250,000 households, and the following day that was extended to around 400,000.
  • There are 15 relays which receive a signal from Bilsdale and pass it on to smaller areas, they have all now been restored.
  • Radio services have also been largely restored.
  • Having provided a technical solution for the vast majority, Arqiva is now meeting with local organisations such as Age UK, local authorities and housing associations to discuss the best way to serve these people.