Most of us had never heard of Arqiva prior to the visit, but that did not deter a near capacity (for them) group gathering at the premises for a keenly anticipated visit. Some of us vaguely knew that they were involved with some sort of ‘communications’, so we had everything to learn; and what an informative & interesting visit it proved to be. The company is involved with digital radio, digital ground & satellite TV plus mobile phone communications.
After coffee our hosts comprehensively explained the various business sectors they cover commencing with mobile ‘phones and the change to a higher frequency necessitated by the advent of ‘5G’; this involved them in considerable (millions) of additional expenditure to duplicate the existing network to ensure continuity of service. They showed us film of mast construction using helicopters to fly in the pre-fabricated components, giving a clear impression of what it is like to work at 1000+ft. the network of a small number of very high masts host receiving & broadcasting dishes for most of the phone retailers such as Vodaphone, O2, etc which then pass on signal traffic to a larger number of smaller masts which in turn pass it down to the local masts from which we take our messages and calls.
Similarly with digital radio in which they appear to own critical patents which allow them to be monopoly broadcasters for the BBC, Classic Radio & all the many small local stations. The TV relaying service was graphically illustrated when we visited one of the control rooms where a dizzying wall to ceiling display of hundreds of small screens gave a snapshot of then current traffic. We learned that some stations readily available on our TV sets at home are based abroad & the entire content channelled via satellite & Arqiva masts to our living rooms. Foreign correspondent features & interviews on news programs in real time are also facilitated by Arqiva.
Our hosts provided an excellent buffet lunch, for which we were very grateful and we eventually left at about 3.00pm with greater knowledge than when we entered. A truly educational & entertaining visit.
Posted by Norma Bryan
Anton U3A Group News
Reports and records of Groups' activities.