SCTV Goes Digital

SCTV Goes Digital


SCTV Digital is the sister company to South Coast TV and a provider of Digital TV service in the Munster region of southern Ireland. MDS America Inc. is the premier provider of equipment and design to the MVDDS market worldwide. This case study will illustrate the relationship between these two companies, in particular the Installation of the current SCTV Digital system completed in November 2006.

SCTV Head End Diagram

"I suppose, looking at the technology, we were excited by it. The very fact that it was flexible and could not alone deliver many television channels, but it had the added capacity whereby we could have video on demand, and down the line install broadband Internet, which is very important in rural Ireland. We also had the capability of remote access whereby our head end could be accessed remotely and worked on remotely. All of those features really suited the type of operation that we were and would fit with the plan that we have here."- John Hurley, SCTV chairman


Souther Ireland Landscape,Service Area

Southern Ireland Landscape, Service Area


General Description

South Coast Television (SCTV), the community run company which has been broadcasting a multi-channel, analog TV service to County Cork and West Waterford, Ireland since 1985 recently launched SCTV Digital, a new company which is providing an independent, Digital TV service for the region.

SCTV Digital, which received a digital broadcast license from ComReg last year, is offering a digital TV and radio package of over 60 channels, including premium, sports, movies, special interest, and a dedicated community channel to subscribers of the service.

In late 2006 SCTV Digital, in cooperation with MDS America, launched MVDDS services from 5 sites covering the greater Munster region. SCTV Digital is licensed to transmit from 28 locations throughout southern Ireland with an option to obtain licenses for the entire country.

SCTV Digital is the first all Irish-owned digital television service. Future services that SCTV Digital plans to offer will include an expanded video content offering, wireless high speed Internet access, video on demand, and VoIP.

Key Business Challenges

A long running dispute with the department of communications and a local cable TV company over licensing issues was the first challenge for SCTV. This dragged on over a fourteen year period and was finally resolved in December 1999 when the newly established Irish telecommunications regulator awarded Southcoast Community Television its UHF transmission license. This paved the way for SCTV Digital which would come several years later.

The next challenge for SCTV was to decide what type of digital video system to build, one that was flexible, had plenty of band width, and the ability to add on Internet, video on demand, and VoIP. Another challenge was obviously the cost. SCTV spoke with several other companies and found that MDS America was the most cost competitive and had the experience and knowledge necessary to deploy and maintain such systems.

In addition, SCTV had the challenge of finding not only a cost effective infrastructure, but a solution that could offer services which would be competitive to NTL, and BskyB, their two largest competitors.

The final challenge was meeting the rigorous roll out schedule of the regulatory commission, ComReg. SCTV Digital agreed to begin the roll-out of their new digital service by the end of September 2006, just a short time after its inception.


SCTV Digital Roll-Out Plan

Date Number of Homes
30 September 2006 44,851
31 October 2007 53,366
30 November 2007 72,550
31 March 2008 99,430
30 November 2008 115,508
30 September 2009 120,102
SCTV Installer SCTV Digital-Mobile

The Solution

MDS America MVDDS solution:

Simply put: MVDDS is a terrestrial based wireless delivery service for video and data content.

A complete system is capable of transmitting over 400 digital video channels + high-speed Internet downstream and can also transmit HDTV (system capacity limited by available RF bandwidth) There are no network latency issues, and it can be deployed in a State wide and regional coverage scenario using a cellular structure.

The MDSA system provides a higher QoS than less advanced wireless video delivery methods, with a much lower initial investment. The system offers a complete duplex wireless system based on the best of WiMAX and Terrestrial wireless technologies. It is also fully scalable and has Triple-Play capabilities.


Typical MVDDS distribution method consisting of one main RF site and several repeaters

"The type of equipment, the flexibility, and the ability to include video on demand and broadband was a great attraction. Also the cost was very competitive, as well as the type of service they could provide. A combination of the three is what attracted us to MDS America in the final analysis."- John Hurley, SCTV chairman

MDSA Advantages

The MDSA solution can compliment or compete with both a Satellite and/or Cable service and is a cost effective delivery method that can be deployed at a fraction of the cost of other delivery methods. The MDSA solution requires a significantly lower investment in infrastructure than either Satellite, Cable or Fiber.

The system is quick to implement and can be 100% operational for its target transmission area in under 5 months, creating an accelerated rate of revenue generation.

The system also allows for market specific programming on the local, regional, and national level (specialized programming such as sports and ethnic channels), in addition to local content and local advertising insertion.

The system provides a proven solution for rural broadband, as well as dependability, security, and an unrivaled wireless bandwidth capability.

SCTV Main TX Site Racked Equipment at Main Head-End


SCTV Main TX Head End Racked Equipment at
Retransmission Site

"MDS America supplied a complete package from the multiplexers to the control network. All equipment was supplied by MDSA, so it was one easy solution." - D.J. O'Donovan, SCTV chief engineer


The MDS America team began the installation of one main distribution site and four retransmission sites for SCTV Digital in August 2006 and completed this initial installation in less than three months.

SCTV Digital continues to gain subscribers at an incredible rate and is on schedule to achieve their first year target of 6000 subscribers. With a roll-out plan running through 2009 they are projected to pass some 120k potential customer homes with their digital signal.

Following the successful roll-out of their digital TV service, SCTV is committed to adding services such as wireless Internet, video on demand, and VoIP.

SCTV Digital is licensed to transmit from 28 locations throughout southern Ireland with an option to obtain licenses for the entire country. As the provider reaches subscriber benchmarks more retransmission sites will be built, expanding their coverage area, per the roll-out schedule. SCTV is scheduled to install a minimum of 10 new sites within the next year.

SCTV Current Coverage Area

"We found the MDSA team to be excellent. They sent two experienced engineers during the installation process. Pre-planning took approximately two weeks and extensive tests were done to assure we were not creating interference, which we're not, it's superb. All in all it has been exceptionally good working with the MDSA team." - D.J. O'Donovan, SCTV chief engineer

SCTV Retransmission Site

SCTV Retransmission Cabinet MDSA Flat Planar RX Antenna MDSA Omni TX Antenna


Current SCTV Offering of 64 Channels


"Since we launched our digital service the volume of work has increased greatly. We're very busy at the moment, and we've taken on a lot more staff as well. So obviously the incoming calls have doubled or even tripled and we are on target with our sales." - Kelly Green, SCTV marketing manager

In late 2006 SCTV Digital, in cooperation with MDS America, launched MVDDS services from 5 sites covering the greater Munster region. SCTV Digital is licensed to transmit from 28 locations throughout southern Ireland with an option to obtain licenses for the entire country.


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