Coventry firm lands contract for local community TV

Comux UK, which won the Ofcom licence to set up as many as 60 local community television stations, has appointed a Coventry firm to provide the broadcast capability.

WarwickNet, the region’s largest independent Internet Service provider, beat competitors BT, Virgin Media and SSE to win the multimillion pound six-year contract.

The central Comux hub will operate from Birmingham Science Park, which will not only house the broadcast operations but also the servers required to power the local TV stations across the UK.

Comux chief operating officer Clare Bramley said they had chosen the Innovation Birmingham Campus because of the 2Gbit/s broadband connectivity there, which was installed by WarwickNet.

Her team will now be working with WarwickNet – which specialises in providing superfast broadband to science and business parks – to install the broadcast capability of each of the local television station across the UK. There will be 19 stations in the first phase, some of which are due to go live by the end of the year. The local channels have now been allocated to Freeview Channel 8 in England and Wales.

Very large data files of TV content from the local production companies will be sent via WarwickNet’s private network to the Comux facility at the Birmingham Science Park in Aston and from there the programming will be streamed directly to local TV transmitter sites. Additionally, some live TV will be streamed directly to Comux from the local studios.

Comux chief executive Ed Hall said: “We needed an organisation with a very high level of technical expertise in building complex, bespoke, multi-site networks and that we could work closely with as a long term partner. WarwickNet has a great reputation for real customer service and a proven ability to deliver really high-speed data connectivity”

WarwickNet managing director Ben King said: “This initiative is one of the most exciting changes to the UK’s television landscape for many years. Previously, local TV had been limited to a handful of cities, but soon there will be up to 60 towns and cities with their own dedicated channel, serving the local community.

“Comux awarded us the contract because we were able to offer a more technically appropriate solution and more flexibility than the competitors by offering both the design and the management of the project,” he said.

Originally conceived by former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the local TV initiative aims to create a vibrant network of stations that can service local communities, improve local democracy and provide an alternative to the BBC’s services.

Alongside broadcasting on digital terrestrial TV, some of the local channels are expected to go live on satellite and cable TV, and online. Each station will be required to raise their own advertising revenue, but the BBC has also pledged £25 million of funding up to 2017.

WarwickNet has grown to become a major independent player in the internet connectivity and broadband marketplace, specialising in the supply of high-speed broadband to businesses. It has built a reputation as a high quality internet service provider (ISP) connecting business parks and science parks. As a national organisation it has an extensive London and European core network and delivers to customers across the UK.