RTÉ network has said the Cairn Hill mast will remain strategically important even in the aftermath of the digital switch-over to SAORVIEW television this October.
A spokesperson for the RTÉ networks (RTÉNL), the body charged with transmitting Irish terrestrial TV and certain radio stations, described the Cairn Hill mast as “an important television and radio transmission site for RTÉNL and will be retained and maintained for many years into the future.”
At present, the Cairn Hill mast is used for both analogue UHF television and FM radio services. Traditional Analogue Terrestrial Television (ATT) is transmitted from the mast and Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT), which has been branded SAORVIEW, will be transmitted from Cairn Hill into the future. There will be no change to FM services.
It is hoped the freeing up of analogue frequencies will allow for an improvement in broadband speeds, particularly in rural areas. The arrival of SAORVIEW in Ireland will facilitate the freeing up of frequencies for other uses, but it is not yet clear what use the freed frequencies will be put to.
RTÉ NL confirmed that ComReg, the Commission for Communications Regulation, are currently in a consultancy process with a view to offering the freed frequencies to mobile phone and wireless broadband services.
The spokesperson for RTÉ NL also confirmed the Cairn Hill mast could be used by these new or upgraded services but it will very much depend on their network design and the outcome of the consultancy process with ComReg.
A number of existing mobile, telecoms, broadband and emergency services operators currently use the RTÉNL mast at Cairn Hill, and it is expected this will continue. No changes are required to the Cairn Hill mast to allow for the digital switch-over.
The Cairn Hill mast, which began transmitting in 1978, is the most powerful transmitter in Ireland.