Market Insight

New Polish building regulations specify TV reception equipment


All new blocks of flats built in Poland from next year will be required to include infrastructure for reciving digital TV and wi-fi, according to regulations from the Polish Ministry of Transport and Construction. The new regulations will come into force in March 2013. Every new block of flats will have to be equipped with collective digital terrestrial antenna, a collective satellite dish of at least 1.2m in diameter set to receive signals from at least two satellites, as well as fibre and cable infrastructure, including switches to the public network and connections to every dwelling. The blocks will also have infrastructure for wireless telecommunications services, including masts and cabling to every dwelling. When possible, the new regulations will also apply to blocks being modernised or refurbished.

Poland is the first country to apply regulations requiring installation of telecommunications infrastructure to such an extent, including all telecommunications and TV platforms. Regarding TV services, the new regulations do not favour any platform. Inhabitants will be able to choose any provider present in their area depending on their offering. Cable TV players will be able to save on network roll-out and invest more elsewhere. The DTT platform, currently offering 15 free-to-air channels, will become even more attractive without the need to buy the antenna typically required in urban areas. Nonetheless, satellite TV seems to benefit most from the regulations, with dishes being pre-installed. 

Free satellite with hundreds of channels under such circumstances is likely to prove more attractive than DTT. The requirement of setting the dishes so that they will receive the channels from at least two satellites will enable reception of any satellite pay TV (all pay sat TV players in Poland use Eutelsat's HotBird satellites), but also Polish public TV channels on Astra. More attractive will become satellite offers targeting the low budget sector (like Telewizja Na Karte). With the infrastructure partially installed, total costs of the services might decrease, although end users will have to bear the cost of maintenance and technical support. It is not clear whether housing associations will be allowed to sign deals with the operators about the technical support. More likely they will have to start co-operation with third party companies which may create a gap between pay TV providers and end-users.

In 2011, 3,786 blocks of flats were built in Poland, and 5,052 in 2010, accounting for much less than one per cent of total homes. It is therefore unlikely that the new regulations may have any considerable impact on Poland's telecommunications and TV markets in the near future. In the long run, however, they will facilitate operators' investments in the network to a higher degree and also increase competition.