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Spain: Cellnex, SES Astra battle over DTT extension

Satellite operator SES Astra and Cellnex Telecom, the recently-rebranded telecoms subsidiary of Spanish infrastructure company Abertis, are pitched against each other in bidding to win contracts to extend DTT coverage to remote areas in the country.

Several Regions in Spain have launched public tenders to award the contracts to take the DTT signal to around 1.5 million people with no access to DTT or difficulties in the reception of the TV signals.

Cellnex proposes to use terrestrial networks to carry the signal to the digital areas, whereas SES-Astra relies on satellite-based solutions to reach households in the isolated areas.

Last year, the EC ruled that subsidies worth €46 million granted in Castilla-La Mancha were illegal and should be paid back by the beneficiaries of the state aid. The EC concluded that the DTT subsidies breached the principle of technological neutrality, favouring terrestrial digital technology to the detriment of other distribution platforms such as satellite, cable or the Internet. That decision followed a June 2013 ruling in which the Commission ordered DTT operators in other Spanish regions to pay back €260 million in unlawfully-granted state aid.

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