Rai Way’s Activities and Market Context
Infrastructure and network services for communications
We guarantee a public radio and television service for the broadcasting and transmission of radio and television content, both in Italy and abroad. We use our assets, as well as the most advanced technological solutions, to offer infrastructure and network services to our customers.
Evolving in line with market trends.
We have established our position as leaders in the Italian market for communication and network services infrastructure. This is thanks to our distinctive characteristics, such as:
- the widespread nature of the network throughout Italy
- the excellence of the knowledge and operational skills of our highly qualified personnel
- reliability in ensuring a public service mission
- financial soundness, which allows us to make important investments
- our dynamic approach to seeking out new technology.
Our business model is not directly impacted by the economic cycle; this has solidified our resilience, especially during the economic and health crisis of COVID-19.
Rai Way’s Strengths:
- Know-how and qualified personnel
- Technological assets
- Quality, effectiveness, and attention to the environment
- Presence across Italy
- Rai Way's fibre optic contribution network allows for the interconnection of Rai's production centres and regional offices, which send high-definition audio-video signals.
- All signals sent by Rai flow onto a matrix at the Rai Way national control centre in Via Teulada (Rome).
- Saxa Rubra (Rome) represents Rai's main broadcasting point, to which we are connected via fibre optics. Rai gives us all the signals to distribute.
- The signals are inserted in the Head Ends, platforms where they are packaged in the multiplex that must distribute them.
- Once the multiplexes are packaged, they are transported through our digital terrestrial distribution network, via radio link networks or fibre optics, to our broadcasting network (2,300 sites distributed throughout the country).
- From the broadcasting systems - our towers - the multiplex signal is diffused in the coverage area, reaching the TV antennas and radios of the end-users.
In 2008, our network reached an important technological milestone; we transitioned from analogue to digital terrestrial (DTT). Thanks to this switch, Rai is able to ensure a universality in our public services, with coverage of MUX 1 (Rai channels 1, 2, and 3) to more than 99% of the population.
Today, we are undergoing another fundamental evolution: transitioning to DVB-T2 technology and to a higher compression standard (MPEG4/HEVC). This is needed to clear up frequency band 700MHz, which will make way for the development of 5G.
This process, known as ‘re-farming’, has two primary benefits:
- favouring the technological evolution of the country;
- giving us state-of-the-art infrastructure, extending our networks and preparing them to carry out new services.
- This will benefit both our clients and our end-users.
In transitioning to a new DVB T2 technology transmission system, re-farming:
- improves transmission quality;
- allows broadcasters to propose more high-definition content;
- envisages the extension of network coverage: in 2021, Rai Way came to 1,000 sites set up to broadcast all Rai's thematic channels and HD programmes, compared to 400 during the first switchover to digital terrestrial television
- proposes Rai Way at the top of the sector when it comes to broadcasting networks for the most important regional television operators in Lombardy, Piedmont, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Lazio, Puglia, Basilicata, and Sicily;
- allows for more interactive content, approaching the world of Smart TVs;
- reduces our environmental impact; our systems will allow us to reduce our electromagnetic radiations, as well as our carbon footprint.
The process of our switch to DVB-T2 and to new compression standards has been subjected to an agreement with Rai, signed in December 2019.
Rai’s investment in our re-farming project is significant: 150 million Euros in total.
Lines of development
Our business model is evolving to reflect the changes in the sector we operate in, responding to a deep-rooted and dynamic evolutionary process – which could also be considered disruptively innovative – of digital transformation and new methods of producing content.
In terms of the television market, Italy is characterised by the resilience of its digital terrestrial broadcasting (DTT), which is much more prevalent than other television platforms, when compared to other countries. The motivation, therefore, is twofold: it is both historic and technological.
Sustainability of Digital Terrestrial Television
More than 70% of Italian families choose digital terrestrial television as the primary platform for accessing television content. Cable TV has never been developed, and satellite TV is mainly used for Pay-TV and, where necessary, to supplement DTT coverage in unreached areas. Compared to the OTT (Over the Top) platform, DTT shows a good resilience with a stable audience (about 10 million viewers throughout the day) and a share of 85% of broadcasters' advertising revenues.
What do Italians choose: traditional or on-demand television?
The two methods of television consumption are actually more complementary than substitutionary. On-demand TV is prevalent when it comes to non-live and deferrable content (like series or films), whilst the linear method remains top choice for live or non-deferrable events aimed at a large audience, such as entertainment, sports, and news. In terms of costs and capacity, DTT broadcasting remains, therefore, the most efficient way to distribute the offer of traditional broadcasters
This complementary nature between the two platforms is confirmed by trend analyses carried out in recent studies and questionnaires. It was found that:
- the excellent performance of digital terrestrial during the pandemic (audience +10%) for the social role of traditional TV
- the vast majority of users watch content on multiple platforms (90% OTT users still watch traditional TV)
- when available, television screens are the preferred viewing platform, compared to mobile or other devices
Broadband and Broadcasting Platforms
A mix of broadband and broadcasting platforms are, therefore, proven. This allows us to reap the benefits of both, such as:
- ample coverage and widespread audience of traditional television via DTT;
- flexibility and personalisation of content broadcast via broadband.
Where do we see ourselves in the future?
Rai Way is open to a number of long-term prospects, thanks to the services we offer on new platforms, as well as potential activities relating to the upgrading of our networks (for example, with 5G).
In particular, we intend to reinforce our role in the Media & Broadcasting value chain by following four main directives:
- continue to ensure the transmission and broadcasting of television and radio content for public service broadcasting
- introduce services for the transmission and delivery of content on OTT platforms, to support our broadcast customers in responding to evolving consumption habits while guaranteeing a high quality of service and user experience
- extend the services offered on traditional platforms to other customers. In particular, in the switchover to DVB-T2, Rai Way strengthened its presence in the local private broadcasting market by participating in tenders called by the Ministry for Economic Development. We have already been awarded frequencies in Lombardy, Piedmont, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Puglia, Basilicata and Sicily, regions characterised by the presence of the most indispensable local television stations on the national scene.
- contribute to an evolution in traditional broadcaster content transmission models into DVB-T2, through networks architectures and IP platforms which will allow for high-value interactive services. Our hybrid DVBT2-IP networks integrate the transmission of DVB-T2 signals to provide personalised services to citizens, thanks to the specific functionalities of Smart TVs. This opens up interesting prospects in giving value to social, institutional, and commercial networks in a local area.
Analog and Digital Radio
In terms of the Italian radio market, the transmission of analogue radio in FM is supported by DAB+ (Digital Audio Broadcasting) networks. The two transmissive technologies will continue to work parallel to each other.
As well as ensuring the transmission and broadcasting of RAI radio services, we are adapting to be able to:
- progressively expand digital methods of content reception through our transmission and broadcasting networks into DAB+ technology, which is already present along the main Italian roads and motorways, as well as in all densely populated areas;
- introduce public utility services which make use of the flexibility of digital technology and its integration with IP platforms. This will improve the broadcasting of signals along motorways (including in tunnels), and informative services of added value for Italian citizens. Particularly, the first DAB+ broadcasting systems are being activated inside the tunnels of the most important Italian motorways. Services to citizens within the automotive sector are also being tested, connected to the broadcasting of digital radio signals;
- propose co-siting projects to bring the equipment of private broadcasters onto our sites, offering benefits in terms of environmental and landscape impact, thanks to the reduced number of metal infrastructures and antennas used and the containment of electromagnetic emissions and energy consumption
Our unique network infrastructure, characterised by quality towers strategically placed to provide coverage to the entire population of Itaand landscapely, makes Rai Way’s assets a point of reference not just for TV and radio clientscostumerscustomers, but also for the development of services for telecommunications operators.
What sets our towers apart is, in particular, their presence in rural and more peripheral areas of the country. This was necessary in guaranteeing a public radio and television broadcasting service.
Our services integrate hosting (i.e., the hosting of our towers on third-party apparatus, such as that of broadcasters and telecommunications operators) and complementary services which add value to the planning of networks, the management and maintenance of systems, and energy supply.
Our assets support the development of mobile network coverage, as well as the extension of fixed broadband services in white and grey areas. This is achieved through Fixed Wireless Access technology.
More and more Fixed Wireless Access and New Services
The tower rental market presents opportunities related to the predicted acceleration of new-generation broadband network development, both mobile (5G) and fixed, thanks to ‘Fixed Wireless Access’. But what does this mean? FWA is the technology which allows for increased broadband coverage in order to sustain the broadcasting of new services.
Our DTT coverage reaches 99.8% of the population. This is why we consider ourselves a strategic asset in the relevant market, as well as an important figure in overcoming the digital divide. In this way, we are able to reach:
- smart cities, densely inhabited areas;
- smart villages, low-density rural areas.
In the Tower Business sector, we have launched a process which aims to broaden our value proposition, studying and developing a number of relevant initiatives, including:
- the fibreer-to-the-tower (FttT) connection, which enables additional innovative services and will support the rollout of wireless networks in areas of digital divide, as found within the case of FWA
- the launch of new services achieved through the evolution of infrastructure, as exemplified by the local processing and storage of data for Edge Data Center, aiding the rollout of new mobile networks and the development of new cloud-based and low-latency applications (e.g. gaming)
- DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) services, i.e. micro-antennas, which will allow an expansion of high-quality video content networks in locations close to strategic sites
Our role in client service
Strengthened by in our long-standing experience with RAI, we apply our engineering, planning, and managerial knowledge, as well as our technological and human resources, to the services we provide to all our clients. We are able to bring value to activities related to Tower Rental, to transmission and broadcasting needs, and to innovative and high-tech services.
We constantly monitor new business opportunities which allow us to diversify and expand the services we offer. In this way, we are able to ensure growth and synergy prospects with core businesses in infrastructural sectors similar to our own, such as Data Center, Edge Data Center, and Content Delivery Network services.
In a sector such as ours, which is undergoing a dynamic consolidation process, we are dedicated to pursuing growth strategies and acquiring relevant competitive factors, e.g. the reinforcement of diversity and the dimensional scale.
Our choices intend to add value to both our elevated technological knowledge and our unique infrastructure. For example: they allow us the possibility to take advantage of the strategic positioning of our towers across Italy, considering also opportunities which allow for:
- industrial synergy;
- wider openings into rapidly-growing markets;
- alternative uses for our infrastructure.
We contribute to the technical evolution of the country through our activities and investments.