Case Study

Landlords and developers continually strive to offer the best choice for tenants and homeowners, at the same time looking to implement new and innovative technologies whilst maintaining the aesthetics and integrity of the properties.

Over the last few years developers and landlords have been installing integrated reception systems (IRS) as a way to offer TV choice to those residents and home owners which, for many reasons may not have been possible to install an antenna or satellite dish (ie. if the resident lived on the 5th floor of a block, or didn't have access to a south east facing aspect). It also offered the added benefit to the Landlords and Developers of not having their buildings and estates being scarred by a mass of rusting satellite dishes.

As developers today are spending far more time and effort in ensuring their new developments are aesthetically pleasing. Many now want to keep their developments with clean roof line and where possible, devoid of both terrestrial TV antennas and satellite dishes.

A case study of the FIRS installation at the Wichelstowe Development near Swindon

Wichelstowe is a new housing development, which over time will encompass house building over East, Middle and West Whichel. Whichelstow is located close to Swindon and is just off Junction 16 of the M4. Phase one has commenced with home building and occupation already in place, when the development has been completed it is planned to provide in excess of 4,500 new homes. Although the development will comprise primarily of individual dwellings it will also include a number of multi dwellings units. The digital terrestrial TV reception, at Wichelstowe, is quite poor and would require a terrestrial antenna to be installed high on a mast above the roofline of the house to ensure adequate signal reception.

The developer was keen to keep the aesthetics of the estate as close to the original build and was keen to keep the roofline clear of antennas and dishes plus they saw communication and data as key consideration for their residents. They were therefore keen to look at the installation of a single mast situated off site for the antennas and dishes and then to distribute the TV signals across the estate via cabling. As the number of homes to be fed, even in phase 1 exceeds 2,000, they were aware that this would be impossible to achieve from a single TV antenna site if they used a conventional copper based system. As they had already committed the development to have a full fibre data and phone network [FTTP] they investigated the feasibility of also delivering the TV signals over this fibre network. It soon became clear that the TV delivery would require its own dedicated fibre network but that this could be installed in conjunction with the data and telephone network (ie. it was very easy for the fibre network installer to install 2 fibres to the home instead of 1).

"Television, broadband and telephone provision are key considerations for all new developments. The UK is slowly replacing out-dated copper networks with high speed fibre networks, and new developments have the opportunity to install this modern technology from the outset."
Swindon Borough Council

After an investigation they were left with two practical options to meet their design requirements which were:

A FIRS deployment had a number of advantages over a hybrid system, the entire network is sub terrarium, no street furniture required and, as it is completely passive, there is also no power required in the network, which is a significant factor in cost and reliability. It is also able to offer full TV services to each room (ie. independent Sky+ type services) unlike a coaxial system which would at best only be able to offer Sky+ to one room and either rebroadcast that signal, or offer terrestrial TV to other rooms in the home.

The cost of installing the hybrid system would have been slightly cheaper, if a full fibre deployment had not already been planned, but as a ducting was being installed for the voice and data fibre network to all homes, the added cost of installing a second fibre and extra splitters across the site, was more cost effective than implementing a part copper network across the site.

Simple Cost Analysis

It is difficult to show all the true costs for both systems, as some of the costs may vary depending on other services being installed. For example some of the cost for the FIRS network infrastructure may be borne by the network provider, or the home owner, on an annual rental charge and not by the developer.

As both systems can be up scaled the costs are based on a 1500 home system

Based on 1500 homes FIRS Hybrid
Headend cost £65,000 £12,500
Network nodes - £113,000
Cost per home £43.33 £83.67
Network infrastructure * £70.00 £75.00
In home £130.00 £35.00
Total cost per home £243.33 £193.67

* Note 1
With the operational model for a FIRS system the developer does not meet the fibre network deployment cost. These are met by the homeowner on an annual rental charge. The current cost of this is circa £7.00 per annum and this charge is normally paid to a management company which then pays the network management company on an ongoing annual basis. To give some level of comparison between the two systems we have added 10 years of network charges to the above table. Although it should be noted that the FIRS installation will cost the developer less as he is not paying the network installation cost.

As stated above, the FIRS allows the homeowner to have all their broadcast TV services distributed throughout every room of the home. So although the developer may only install TV services in the main living room and master bedroom, the new owners can be offered the option of upgrading their TV system to more rooms if they wish. This upgrade can also be done after the homeowners have taken up residence and would not be possible with a hybrid system.


The Wichelstowe development met all the criteria required to make it an easy decision for the developer to install a FIRS solution.

Get in Touch

Paul Clark
07769 251421