Satellites relative market share is decreasing as there is cloud, mobile data, and other technologies but its absolute share of the market continues to grow. The broadcast and media service provider industry continues to march toward efficiency, more innovative, spot beam architectures, higher performance, and higher efficiency, asserts Satellite Market & Research.
Tremendous changes, driven by technological innovations and market forces, have been sweeping the video broadcast market. Consumers no longer view their favorite shows just on TV but also on their different devices, mostly through streaming video. Viewing habits have been changing. Today, 87 percent of subscription video comes from binge viewing or marathon viewing or subscription video. Thematic channels, binge viewing, and the use of cloud for viewing are prompting technology enablers to change how videos are provided to customers. Most of these disruptive technologies are altering business models and the dynamics of providing broadcast services.
Despite all these changes, traditional broadcasting elements – satellite, cable, terrestrial – remain as vital enablers, though satellite could sometimes be lost in view. But because there is now video everywhere, satellite broadcasting is still a vital component.
Satellite's relative market share is decreasing as there are cloud, mobile data, and other technologies but its absolute share of the market continues to grow. The broadcast and media service provider industry continues to march toward efficiency, more innovative spot beam architectures, higher performance, and higher efficiency. What are driving the change are the enablers who drive these business opportunities. Broadcast market is changing and the impact of all these technological changes is changing the old order. Although satellite stays dominant in the broadcast industry, it is partially hidden. While technological advancements in video broadcasting are changing, satellite broadcast continues to grow as it adapts to changes.
Orchestrating Satellite Services
Looking at where current investments in the industry are pouring in, it is becoming more and more attractive to deliver video over broadband connections in homes. Telcos, cable, and satellite companies competing for the same customers are now using cloud technology to change their business models resulting in changes in value chain and in huge pressure on operational costs.
The satellite industry is responding by leveraging in niche markets with new technology from new vendors and migrating to cloud and IP technology while preserving satellite quality of service and uptime. Satellite operators who want to stick to their services better than anybody should focus on uptime as this remains central.
It is imperative for satellites companies to use resources more efficiently through effective booking of bandwidth and automating the operational processes. It is also important to adapt flexible business models.
Customers are more demanding than ever before, technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and there is increasing pressure to run businesses far more efficiently. An efficient network is a network that supports end-to-end unified media workflows, regardless of which network technology is used and regardless of the brand of equipment. End-to-end service orchestration is now the key, which emphasizes the efficient use of space segment utilization.
Bandwidth on the Move
Most customers are now looking for hardware that has the ability to have both Ku- and Ka-, those that have multiband solutions. When compared to Ka, Ku has been shown to be cheaper, its hardware comparatively lower-priced, and the bandwidth availability a little bit better. Some studies have shown around 30 percent decrease in the total cost of ownership for a Ka band versus a Ku-band broadcaster, though there are pros and cons to the use of either band.
Drive-away and flyaway systems offer an attractive solution to customers interested in taking advantage of the availability of higher speed and lower cost Ka-band service offerings. The new antennas operate in Ka-band but are field upgradable to Ku-band, and are ideal for broadcasters.
Media Cloud Overview
Cloud-based technology and IP technology is being used to transform the way service providers have traditionally delivered video services. With the cloud and IP technology, they are transforming the satellite and the fixed fiber models that broadcasters traditionally use by actually using the Internet to deliver the same services. The result is exactly the same quality of service that one expects to receive via satellite or via fiber.
Large brands have started migrating away from satellite and fixed fiber, using the Internet to contribute and gather signals. In case of a satellite feeding 20 megabits and 40 megabits via Internet side-by-side on the same television in exactly the same screens, the difference in quality is noticeable.
Broadcast Signal Distribution over IP
Another innovative way of receiving and distributing satellite signals in homes is via SAT IP, which allows satellite programs to be distributed, like traditional IPTV, over any IP network.
SAT IP allows satellite programs to be distributed not just on IP-capable set-top boxes but also on other modern IP capable devices – PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. This makes the technology ideal for families staying together. SAT IP was designed with several usage scenarios in mind – from consumer in home distribution to large professional distribution applications. It is believed that SAT IP will allow all of today's satellite usage scenarios to be ported into the IP world, as well as open up many new possibilities for advanced applications.
SES, which was one of the prime movers in developing the technology, believes that SAT IP can work in single-home environments as well as in larger multi-dwelling unit (MDU) scenarios. Many network clients and existing set-top boxes today can be upgraded to SAT>IP reception simply through a software upgrade.
Support for SAT IP has been growing with six leading satellite operators and manufacturers forming SAT IP Alliance, formalizing a coalition that was initiated last year to develop compatible hardware and software for the SAT IP technology. The SAT IP Alliance now consists of SES, Hispasat, Panasonic, Nagra, ALi Corporation, MaxLinear, and Eutelsat Communications.
The innovative SAT IP technology converts satellite signals into IP at the reception point using a small server, which may be located in the satellite dish or in the user's home, and distributing the signal to different IP devices such as tablets, smartphones, and laptops. This technology makes it possible to provide high-quality content via satellite more efficiently to all the screens in a home, using pre-existing networks in the building. SAT IP is currently a European standard compatible with satellite and ground networks.
The SAT IP Alliance, which will be constituted shortly in Luxembourg as a nonprofit organization, will be in charge of setting forth SAT IP-related strategic developments and creating working groups through its executive committee. The main aims of the Alliance will be to promote the use of the SAT IP protocol throughout the industry, facilitate certification of new devices, and develop and improve the SAT IP standard.
Content remains the king but the difference is that there are now multi-camera events leading to higher bitrates, which can capture content for any screen, lead to more and more feeds tailored fit for each device, next to transport streams. There is also need for the traditional MPEG-2 TS and http adaptive streaming.
Multiservice network or a single network runs multiple services such as video or file exchanges. But next to that, there is also a need for an always-on network for voice and other types of IP communications for social interaction. There is no such thing anymore as satellite-only or terrestrial-only network. All networks that are seen these days are hybrid and workflows and need to go flawlessly over the entire network.
An industry survey conducted by Newtec earlier, results of which are still valid, found that over 90 percent of the industry considers the satellite segment OpEx to be a very high expense, yet more than a third (40 percent) say they have spare capacity. The total amount of space segment is, therefore, an expense area where OpEx can be reduced.
The results also uncover many occasional use (OU) sessions in broadcast networks. These sessions often require a lot of manual operations, despite the cost of staff overall being considered even more important than the satellite space segment OpEx. This is another area where OpEx can be saved. There is something that can be in the OpEx by making effective use of the satellite resource.
It is also initiated that the industry is constantly searching for new growth. More than 80 percent of broadcasters and broadcast service providers plan to launch additional services in the near future. A single platform shared between multiple services – a multiservice network – will help address rising costs while increasing network flexibility, enabling business cases for new service deployments. The industry wants a multiservice network based on a single platform and future-proof all-IP transport layer, independent of the underlying network layers. An all-IP multiservice network supports video, voice, data, and broadband services on a single infrastructure and space segment.
Different broadcast linear and nonlinear workflows can run simultaneously on multiservice networks. They share the same infrastructure, operating staff, and space segment, instantly reducing the level of CapEx and OpEx while increasing business flexibility.
It is predicted that next-generation networks would be IP, all IP transport layers, and network would be flexible, scalable and efficient, with multi-service support, umbrella management system, workflow automation, hybrid connectivity, satellite capacity management, and file exchange management.
Digital Signage over Satellite
Another innovative change that has been sweeping the broadcast industry is digital signage. Currently, through satellite connectivity solutions, big retail chains are able to entice customers to visit their stores and develop brand affinity through broadband digital signage solutions that allow the management and monitoring of advertising content in remote locations.
Wide area networks (WAN) are available to transmit data and live content but for businesses and franchisees set up in rural locations, connectivity can be poor or non-existent.
Satellite operators like Eutelsat are able to provide broadband connectivity at a competitive price point to any location across Europe, parts of North Africa, and the Middle-East through KA-Sat. This is achieved through KA-Sat's future-proof technology, which provides high-throughput bandwidth on the spot. KA-SAT is an HTS (high-throughput satellite) delivering high-bandwidth services to users beyond range of terrestrial networks. KA-SAT's revolutionary concept is based on a payload with 82 Ka-band spot beams connected to a network of ten ground stations. This configuration enables frequencies to be reused, taking total throughput to beyond 90 Gbps, and making it possible to deliver Internet connectivity for more than one million homes.
Expectations and requirements of the industry are ever increasing. It is not enough to have text on the screen. It is not enough to have HD pictures. People also expect some interactivity possibilities. Customers also want to give feedback on the screen and want to get information as quickly as possible from the content providers. This allows the content providers the ability to profile their customers and gather other vital information such as measure the effectiveness of the content played, receive a breakdown of the viewing audience for each content played, know who looks at the digital signage displays and for how long, and determine the monetary value of content, making digital signage an ideal form of targeted advertising.
Deployment of digital signage has become more complex, because of the variety of possible connections (DSL, fiber), networks, telcos, and needs of the customers. But HTS satellite is some kind of a tool box, which does it all because it also offers broadband IP connectivity.
Satellite issue itself can be completely kept independent from the rest of the infrastructure. So digital signature can come on the side of retail market; they do not need to touch IT infrastructure and usually the IT managers of those companies like that because they do not like to be disturbed by digital signage people. It is an always-on solution, so one can always touch the system.
Next-Generation Satellite Broadcast Services
The production cost has been going down. Equipment, editing suites, and connections are all going down; there is no more need to invest because even the broadcast workflow systems can be rented out.
Newcomers in the industry prefer to rent equipment and services rather than invest because of the complexities involved. While operational costs to clients may be higher, there is less worry involved in the production. The satellite industry must respond to the challenge with lower cost, more flexible solutions, easier-to-use systems, and higher throughput for the connections, while operational costs of satellites are competing with terrestrial broadband networks with 3G or 4G connections. This is not necessarily a threat to satellites but in fact offers an enormous opportunity because today it is not only the broadcast industry that uses video.
While IPTV is now growing worldwide, the technical know-how and expertise to put into IPTV channel remains very scarce. So there is difficulty for broadcasters to put the whole chain of video contribution and distribution from beginning to the end. Satcom technologies division of a few companies offers a wide range of high-performance, advanced satellite communications equipment for telecommunication companies, broadcasters, integrators, and government organizations operating satellite earth stations, satellite newsgathering vehicles, flyaways, and other mobile or portable Satcom solutions. Satcom solutions feature optional customized bands, superior spectral purity, an intuitive user interface, compact and robust mechanical design, extremely low power consumption, high MTBF, and state-of-the-art technologies and the latest features from the DVB-S2X standard extension like low roll-off and super frames.
Second-Generation DTH Services
Industry players are achieving lots of innovations and advances in certain areas of broadcast industry, such as in the delivery of DTH TV. Some firms are already in the second generation of DTH TV by pushing forward various encoding technologies. Usual challenge is how to deliver their services more cost effectively. In DTH, there are still clients who want to deliver signals the traditional way, via satellite. But now, one can employ IPTV using new technologies. Experts and engineers have focused on technology transition to high frequency, high efficiency, and high performance, as demanded by the growing Satcom on-the-move, mobile, man pack, and broadcast and teleport markets.
Now all the carriers can be placed through the same amplifiers, which is much more efficient. It is now possible for the first time since the introduction of the solid state microwave technology to design and manufacture power amplifiers that exceed by several orders of magnitude the reliability, linearity, power density, and energy efficiency of all the existing technologies. Additional benefits include industry-leading efficiency of operation, reduced cooling requirements, and lighter weight.
A better understanding of the next-generation broadcast technologies will further push the industry forward. As always, the broadcast market is changing and everyone involved has to adapt in order to survive.