Digi Communications NV
Company typePublic limited company
BVB: DIGI
IndustryTelecommunications
PredecessorTVS Holding Brasov (1992)
Kappa (1993)
Founded1994; 30 years ago (1994)
2000; 24 years ago (2000) (Cable Communications NV holding company)
HeadquartersBucharest, Romania
Area served
Romania
Hungary
Spain
Italy
Belgium
Portugal
Key people
Zoltán Teszári (President)
Serghei Bulgac (CEO)
ProductsCable television
Satellite television
Broadband internet
Fixed-line telephony
Mobile telephony
Television production
Pay television
RevenueIncrease 1.70 billion (2023)[1]
Number of employees
22,149 (2023)
Websitedigi-communications.ro

Digi Communications N.V., also known as DIGI Group, is a leading telecommunications holding company with roots in Romania and businesses also in Spain, Italy and now Portugal and Belgium. The firm has current statutory seat in the Netherlands and headquarters of effective management in Romania. Digi was founded by Zoltán Teszári, who is the majority shareholder, and has been listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange since May 16, 2017.

In 2019, Digi had a market share of 51% in Romania and the vast majority of its subscribers are connected via fiber, a process which was started in 2006. This has had a major contribution to Romania's status as a country with one of the highest fixed broadband internet speeds in the world.[2][3][4]

In 2023, Digi Group extended the fiber networks in Spain to cover over 8.7 million homes. In Romania, the company maintained a rapid pace in the rollout of 5G and also introduced 5G services in Spain. The revenues and other income increased by 13% to EUR 1.7 billion, while RGUs in Romania and Spain grew by 15%, reaching 23.8 million units, and adjusted EBITDA rose to EUR 592 million.

History

First cable networks

In 1992 TVS Holding Brasov was developed by Zoltán Teszári, Ioan Bendei and other businessmen. The company offered cable television services in Brașov and Timișoara. In 1993, Zoltán Teszári co-founded Kappa cable company in Bucharest. In 1996, the shareholders decided to divide the Kappa network into two equal parts. Half owned by Zoltán Teszári merged with Analog CATV SA cable company in Bucharest. The other half was bought in 2000 by Astral Telecom, which in 2005 was merged with UPC Romania (now Vodafone Romania). This separation of the company led to the division of the areas in Bucharest between the two companies for 10 years.


Development

In 1997, the company changed its name to Romania Cable Systems S.A. (RCS). Same year it is established Romania Data Systems S.A. (RDS) which offers internet services. Among the investors in the company from the beginning until the listing on the stock exchange were Carpathian Cable Investments S.a.R.L. from 1998 and Celest Limited from 1999.

The company entered Hungary in November 1998 after buying 15 small and medium cable companies in Budapest and 3 other cities. Between December 1999 and January 2000, the first cable networks were acquired in Slovakia, where Slovakia Cable Systems (SCS) was 95% owned by RCS.

In April 2000, the project to build a 4,200 km national fiber optic network was initiated.[5]

In 2003, after the liberalization of the market, the fixed telephony service was launched in Romania. Digi TV satellite television platform was first launched in Romania in December 2004, followed by launches in Hungary in February 2006, in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in August 2006 and in Croatia and Serbia in December 2006.

2005-2014

RCS & RDS logo (2005–2012)

RCS and RDS merged to form RCS & RDS S.A. on 26 April 2005. The company focused on rapid development both organically and through acquisitions. The C-Zone network was acquired in 2006, entering certain areas in Bucharest that were not covered due to zone exclusivity. In these areas RCS & RDS kept the brand until 2009.

Digi Slovakia, including the Digi Sport television channels in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, were sold to Slovak Telekom in 2013.[6] Also, satellite television subsidiary in the Czech Republic was sold to Lama Energy in March 2015,[7] which continued to use the Digi brand for other acquired internet and IPTV provider until 1 April 2020.[8] The subsidiary in Croatia was sold to A1 Telekom Austria's Vipnet (now A1 Croatia).[9]

Mobile development

In 2014, the mobile phone service was relaunched, followed by the launch of 4G service in 2015.

Satellite television subsidiary in Serbia was sold to Kopernikus Technology, which in turn was sold to Telekom Srbija (mts) in 2018.[10]

In 2017, Digi bought the Invitel cable company in Hungary. After initially receiving approval in May 2018, it was revoked in November 2018, due to finding non-competitive issues in certain areas. These have been resolved and the transaction was completed in March 2020.[11]

Corporate structure

Cable Communications Systems NV was established in the Netherlands in 2000 and is the parent company of RCS & RDS SA, the Romanian company founded in 1994 by Zoltán Teszári. It was renamed Digi Communications NV in 2017 when was listed.[12]

Services

Broadband internet

Digi implemented FTTB technology on almost the entire network in Romania and Hungary in 2006. Then followed the implementation of GPON in 2008, covering the houses as well. In 2013 started replacing FFTB with FTTH. They started the business in Spain in 2008.In 2018 Digi started offering internet services through FTTH in Spain. As of first half of 2023, it counts for 5.7 millions of clients.[13]

Mobile telephony

The company launched Digi Mobil in Romania in December 2007 which offered mobile telephony limited to 3G service only at the time. In 2014, the mobile phone service was relaunched, followed by the launch of 4G service on band 38 in 2015 and on band 1 in 2018.

After winning a mobile operator license in 2014 and numerous delays, the company launched mobile services in Hungary in 2019.

In Spain, due to the large number of Romanian residents, MVNO mobile telephony services were launched through Movistar in 2008. Initially, the company attracted Romanians because it offered cheap calls with Romanian networks. Vodafone Spain reacted after 1 year when it started losing customers by offering free calls with Vodafone Romania. This was followed by offers for Latin Americans. Then the company started offering internet at a low price, attracting Spanish customers. Digi became the second MVNO operator by number of customers.

Following the model in Spain, in 2010 Digi Mobil was launched as MVNO in Italy through TIM, but it was not as successful despite the fact that in Italy is a larger number of Romanians. Vodafone Italia began to offer free calls with Vodafone Romania and fixed networks before the launch of Digi Mobil.

Cable television

The company offers all channels in one package except premium channels.

Television channels

In July 2009, Digi launched the Digi Sport channels in Romania and Hungary. Then followed the Digi Sport channels in Slovakia and the Czech Republic in August 2010, which have been operated separately since 2013 following the takeover of Digi Slovakia by Slovak Telekom.

In the summer of 2010, it acquired 50% of Music Channel, which launched Hit Music Channel in January 2012. The company launched a generalist channel in December 2010, but due to the low audience it was closed. The premium movie channel Digi Film (now Film Now) was launched on 1 February 2011. In 2011, Digi acquired the UTV TV music channel.

Digi24 TV news channel was launched on 1 March 2012. Following disagreements with Discovery, the company launched 3 thematic channels in October 2012: Digi World, Digi Life and Digi Animal World. On 10 December 2018, Digi 4K was launched.

Energy supplier

In April 2015, Digi launched the energy supply service. The company had in 2017 the most subscribers on the competitive market from the companies that do not have the distribution infrastructure. In 2019, it increased tariffs by 30% due to a tax added by the government and then by 20%. The company announced that it is gradually giving up the supply service due to the unusual volatility of the electricity price.[14]

Digi brand

RCS & RDS introduced the Digi TV brand for satellite television services in December 2004 in Romania and in 2006 in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Serbia. In 2006 the company unified under the Digi brand the cable television, internet and telephony services in Hungary, followed by Slovakia in June 2007. In Romania all the services rebranded Digi in 2009 but it is used together with the old RCS & RDS brand.[15]

Mobile frequencies

The following is a list of Digi Mobil mobile frequencies in Romania.[16]

Romania

Mobile frequencies used by Digi Mobil in Romania
MCC MNC Frequency Band number Protocol Class Notes
226 05 900 MHz 8 GSM (2×5Mhz) 2G Voice only GSM network from refarming LTE 900, used for better indoor coverage. [17]
226 05 2100 MHz 1 UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+ (2×5Mhz ~21.6 Mbit/s/5.76 Mbit/s) 3G Converted to LTE / 5G NSA.
226 05 2100 MHz B1 LTE (2×10 MHz ~ 75 Mbit/s/37.5 Mbit/s)

LTE (2x15 MHz ~ 112.5 Mbit/s/37.5 Mbit/s)

4G FDD-LTE network launched on 6 October 2016.[18] Coexists with n1 5G NSA in big cities.
226 05 900 MHz B8 LTE (2×3 MHz ~22.5 Mbit/s/7.5 Mbit/s) 4G FDD-LTE network launched in September 2019 from refarming UMTS 900.[17]

In 2022 began the process of refarming the spectrum back to 2G and closing down the LTE 900 network in favor of LTE 800

226 05 2600 MHz B38 LTE-TDD (2×20Mhz ~300 Mbit/s) 4G TDD-LTE network launched on 1 October 2015. Operational. yet technically outdated network.
226 05 800 MHz B20 LTE (2x5 MHz ~ 37.5 Mbit/s/12.5 Mbit/s) 4G FDD-LTE network launched on 1 January 2022
226 05 2600 MHz B7 LTE (2x20 MHz ~ 150 Mbit/s/50 Mbit/s) 4G Only in populous areas and on highways.
226 05 2100 MHz n1 4.5G 300 Mbit/s 4.5G Marketed as 5G 4G Backbone 5G Network
226 05 3500 MHz n78 5G (1×50Mhz ~600 Mbit/s) 5G TDD 5G network launched on 27 June 2019[19]
226 05 2600 MHz n7 5G (1×45 MHz) 5G FDD 5G increasing network. [20]

Shareholding

The majority owner of Digi Communications NV is RCS Management SA, which includes politicians among shareholders. [21] In 2016 the shareholders of this company were:[22]

Controversy

In 2012, the operator removed Discovery channels from the grid, motivating that it would have requested too much money for retransmission. During public discussions, Digi offered to redistribute all Discovery channels in a separate package, but Discovery refused.[23] Only Discovery and TLC returned to the grid in December 2016.

In 2012, Digi removed the Antena TV Group channels from the satellite television grid following disagreements. In 2013, the director of Digi, Ioan Bendei was blackmailed to sign the distribution contract by the director of Antena Group, otherwise he will denounce him for corruption of the television rights of the national football league. The director of Antena Group was sentenced to prison for blackmail.[24] After evidence of corruption made public by a journalist in 2013, the directors of Digi and of the Professional Football League were convicted in January 2019. [25] Digi and Antena Group have dropped the litigations in May 2018.[26]

In Hungary, Digi was excluded from the auction for 5G licenses in 2019, motivating its decision on assumptions and facts that are supposed to happen. Digi filed an appeal that was not admitted, then sued NMHH, the regulator of the telecommunications market. Meanwhile, the 5G auction has been closed.[27]

References

  1. ^ "Digi, venituri totale de 1,47 miliarde euro în 2021, în creştere cu 12,7%, şi profit operaţional înainte de impozitare de 73 milioane euro, faţă de 24 milioane euro în 2020". February 2022.
  2. ^ "Akamai's state of the internet report Q3 2014" (PDF). akamai.com. 2014.
  3. ^ "Global Speeds March 2020". speedtest.net. March 2020.
  4. ^ "The Countries with the Fastest Internet". statis.com. 10 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Romania Cable Systems". Archived from the original on 8 June 2004.
  6. ^ "Slovak Telekom to buy Digi Slovakia". informa.com. 22 May 2013.
  7. ^ "Czech Digi TV to be sold". broadbandtvnews.com. 23 March 2015.
  8. ^ "Digi TV se od dubna mění na Telly, zavádí nové balíčky". mediaguru.cz. 18 March 2020.
  9. ^ "RCS&RDS Sells Digi TV Croatia to Vipnet". filmneweurope.com. 13 March 2013.
  10. ^ "Srbská Digi TV prodána společnosti Kopernikus. Ta srbskému Telekomu". parabola.cz. 17 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Digi primeste o noua aprobare privind tranzactia Invitel". media-max.ro. 23 March 2020.
  12. ^ "EXCLUSIV: Cable Communications Systems, firma mamă a RCS&RDS, se transformă în Digi Communications şi se listează la BVB". capital.ro. 11 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Sobre DIGI | Lo inteligente es ir por libre".
  14. ^ "Digi retrage furnizarea de energie din grila de programe a companiei". energyreport.ro. 3 June 2019.
  15. ^ "Serviciile RCS&RDS, unificate sub brandul Digi". capital.ro. 20 July 2009.
  16. ^ "List of Mobile Frequencies by Country". spectrummonitoring.com. 28 May 2019. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  17. ^ a b "Digi Mobil introduce serviciul de date mobile 4G în bandă de frecvente de 900 MHz". digiromania.ro. 16 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Digi Mobil anunţă lansarea serviciului de date 4G și în banda de frecvențe 2100 MHz". digi24.ro. 6 October 2019.
  19. ^ "Digi Mobil 5G Smart disponobil, de zi în București și în curând în câteva orașe mari". digiromania.ro. 26 June 2019. Archived from the original on 10 November 2020. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  20. ^ "Romanian telecom operator RCS&RDS wins 42.7 mln euro radio frequency tender". dseenews.com. 16 October 2019.
  21. ^ Adevărata faţă a conducerii RCS-RDS Archived 2013-06-09 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "RCS Management, firma controlata de patronul RCS&RDS, Zoltan Teszari, vrea sa rascumpere 10% din capital cu maxim 22,4 milioane de euro pana la sfarsitul acestui an". hotnews.ro. 9 November 2016.
  23. ^ "RCS&RDS a scos toate canalele Discovery şi de pe reţelele sale de cablu". economica.net. 29 November 2012.
  24. ^ "Directorul Antenelor a santajat RCS-RDS pentru un contract de 7,2 milioane de euro - DNA". ziare.com. 31 May 2013.
  25. ^ "Mitică Dragomir și Ioan Bendei condamnați la 4 ani de închisoare cu executare în dosarul RDS". grupul.ro. 16 January 2019.
  26. ^ "Dupa ani de zile de scandaluri si procese, RCS&RDS si Antena Group au incheiat un contract prin care sting litigiile". ziare.com. 18 June 2018.
  27. ^ "Grupul DIGI cere anularea rezultatelor licitației 5G din Ungaria: Alți trei operatori, declarați câștigători, vor plăti aproximativ 360 de milioane de euro pe licențe". hotnews.ro. 30 March 2020.