On March 10 the Royal Institute of British Architects in London hosted the first in a series of ASTRA roadshows demonstrating the benefits of a new and innovative system for TV reception in communal housing – the fibre integrated reception system (FIRS).
The one-day shows – also being held in Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow – are aimed at anyone who designs and implements communal reception systems such as architects, managing agents, surveyors, property managers, aerial installers and developers.
FIRS is based on two successful and proven technologies – fibre optics and satellite – and is a faster, more convenient and future-proof option that enables long distance and reliable signal transmission in multiple dwelling applications such as single and multiple blocks of flats and new housing developments.
It prevents the proliferation of aerials and satellite dishes, allows tenants and owners to be operator and platform independent, is compatible with advanced technologies such as high definition and 3D, quick and easy to install, and saves up to 30% compared to conventional copper installations.
Developers already using the system include Barratt Homes, Countryside Properties, David Wilson Homes, Bloor Homes, Land Securities, Lagan Homes and Taylor Wimpey; along with companies such as BT Openreach and Independent Fibre Networks.
Sean McCartney of Fibre TV to the Home whose company works with major housing developers to design and deliver TV via a FIRS system noted, “Fibre-based integrated reception systems are an ideal solution for developments with large numbers of flats or houses. They are more aesthetically pleasing and a simpler alternative to copper, they don’t require multiple dishes or aerials, and can be flexibly rolled out to thousands of dwellings over very large sites. Just as importantly they are future proofed, often cheaper to install than other options, and they give consumers complete freedom of choice.”
The system – conceived by Global Invacom and developed in conjunction with ASTRA and BSkyB – was developed as a result of an ASTRA competition for manufacturers, schools and universities, and is now used extensively throughout Europe.
It has been tested and certified, is designed to enhance buildings by removing the need for individual aerials and heavy cables, and later this year the system will also be greener than similar distribution systems because of its significantly lower power requirements.
An integrated reception system (IRS) distributes the signals from a single communal aerial to every home in the system, providing each with access to digital satellite TV and radio, digital terrestrial TV, and FM and DAB radio.
Fibre-based systems allow the use of a much wider variety of configurations. In particular, they can carry signals over much longer distances than conventional copper cables. This means that large housing developments can utilize a single IRS, with substantial cost savings in initial outlay, installation and maintenance.
Robert Smytherman, Chairman of the Federation of Private Resident’s Associations commented, “This seems like an excellent system for residents associations to encourage landlords and managing agents to adopt. It gives people freedom of choice about which services they want, without being committed to anything more than an aerial outlet. It’s also relatively cheap to install and involves minimum disruption, two things that will be very important for residents associations.
“The problem we occasionally face is that some landlords and managing agents are just not interested in communal TV reception for their residents or just don’t know enough about it. Despite Digital Switchover being only a year or so away, there are still some blocks completely unprepared for the digital switch and their residents could wake up one morning to find they can’t get anything on their TV.”