IBC 2012: Strategic thinking towards a connected world

by Staff Reporter | September 3rd, 2012


Roland Nasser of Servicesat

Huang Bao Zhong of APT Satellite Company Ltd

Meike Langer of CETel Group

Karl-Heinz Wenisch of Terracue Broadcast & IPTV Systems

Igor Kot of Gazprom Space Systems

Gary Allen of Peak Communications

Nitin Dhawan of Belgium Satellite Services

Inaki Errecart of Hispasat Group

Multi-format technologies will take centre stage at IBC 2012 as solutions providers work closely with broadcasters to deliver content to multiple platforms while finding new ways to monetise it.

It is a debriefing session that will probably have standing-only room at IBC 2012. ‘The London 2012 Debriefing: Analysing the Summer Olympic Games’ will feature Barbara Slater, BBC’s director of sport, among others, and IBC delegates are being promised the first look into “how it all went down behind the scenes at London 2012, accompanied by amazing Olympics footage”.

For the satellite industry, London 2012 was a landmark. Satellite operators, led by Eutelsat, Intelsat and SES, completed the process of adapting their earth station information tables to include Carrier ID information so they can read, extract and interpret data.

Satellite transmission providers including Adtec Digital, Comtech EF Data, Ericsson, Fujitsu, IDC, Newtec and Vislink also supported the initiative by updating their systems to be Carrier ID ready.

Taking this forward and to be introduced in time for IBC, is the Carrier ID Ready logo. Encoder and modulator manufacturers will be able to display the Carrier ID Ready logo, both on Carrier ID capable products, and on marketing material.

“One of the biggest hurdles remaining with Carrier ID is the fact that many users don’t realise the equipment they have in place is able to handle Carrier ID,” comments Martin Coleman, executive director, the Satellite Interference Reduction Group.

“This simple initiative will give them much more visibility, as well as hopefully provide a useful marketing tool for those manufacturers on board with Carrier ID.”

“We are pleased with this move by IRG to recognise Carrier ID-ready products,” observes Lisa Hobbs, head of broadcast compression solutions, Ericsson. “As we introduce Carrier ID across our satellite modulator and encoder products, being able to display this logo will make it very clear to existing and potential customers that our equipment is ID

Roland Nassar, sales manager of Servicesat a distributor of satellite data connectivity solutions and equipment, for government and home users from places as diverse as Greece and Afghanistan: “We will be showcasing VSAT antennas and offer consultancy to facilitate the transmission of high-speed data, voice or video over satellite. We will be demonstrating the WX1200 auto-deploy and SPFx12A fly-away antennas. We will be also, for the first time, be showcasing our brand new Ka antenna system during the show.”
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ready.” Manufacturers helping with this initiative include Ericsson, Comtech EF Data, and Newtec. Carrier ID was the result of unprecedented solidarity from broadcasters, satellite operators, uplinkers and manufacturers and Dick Tauber, chairman of WBU-ISOG and VP transmission systems and new technology at the CNN News Group, commended the “satellite communications and broadcast industries for this breakthrough”.

 

Huang Bao Zhong, VP, APT Satellite Company Limited: “We will be showcasing Apstar5, Apstar6 and Apstar7. All of the Apstar satellites are capable of providing high quality C-band and Ku-band transponder services reaching about 80% of the world’s population. In addition, APT has been providing high quality transponder utilisation service, satellite communication service and satellite TV broadcasting service to the broadcasting and telecommunication operators in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East, and Africa regions..”
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With HDTV, Ka-band, IPTV and to an extent, connected TV, having had their ‘time’ in the limelight at previous editions of IBC, industry insiders say it is difficult to identify any overriding talking point at the current year’s event.

Robert Bell, executive director, World Teleport Association, says, “A few years ago, one could attend IBC and receive a clear message about what the next big thing was going to be, from 3DTV to HD to connected TVs and the multi-screen markets.

“This year, I would expect the message to be – we don’t know what’s going to happen next! The television business has done a remarkable job at preserving the value of its product in the face of fixed and mobile broadband, that have had such a huge impact on the recorded music business. And that remains the single most important underlying story.

Meike Langer, director, sales & marketing, CETel Group: “We offer fixed and mobile satellite services from our headquarters and own teleport facilities in Germany, as well as our affiliated companies CETel ME in the U.A.E. and Geolink Satellite Services in France. We will presenting a demonstration of the Media ClipWay, a software-based solution for mobile audio and video transmission over IP-links dedicated for media professionals. A new version of Media ClipWay, supporting HD video for store and forward transmissions, will be introduced at IBC 2012.”
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“All of the technical developments that matter are about protecting content while finding new ways to monetise it, and about making the “lean back” living room experience ever more compelling. But it is increasingly like watching an expert kayak down a white-water river, with the rocks coming faster and faster. There is an explosion of new opportunities and great uncertainty about the technical performance, cost impact and revenue models. It is a fascinating time to attend IBC – but don’t expect to come away with a clear head.”

 

Igor Kot, GSS deputy director general of Gazprom Space Systems (GSS): “We operate two satellites Yamal-201 (90°E) serving Russia and Yamal-202 (49°E) aimed at the international market. GSS’ ground infrastructure in Russia consists of three teleports. Now GSS is expanding its orbital constellation. Yamal-300K (900E) and Yamal-402 (550E) satellites are being prepared for launch this year. One more satellite Yamal-401 (900E) is under construction and will be launched next year. The main focus at IBC will be the capabilities of these satellites. The satellite capacity of GSS will be increased by four times after the launch of the satellites in 2012-2013.”
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 The lack of big talking points is good because the “smaller” issues will find some traction. The worldwide digital media marketplace is undergoing rapid transition, driven largely by digital technology and the change this technology enables. The opportunities for HDTV, analogue-to-digital conversion, satellite radio, IPTV and mobile video technologies are exploding, and in this fluid environment, no issue impacting the industry is too small to discuss.

The impact of Ka-band

Eutelsat in conjunction with World Teleport Association will be hosting the Industry Dialogue Series at IBC. A panel of experts will explore the impact of Ka-band services on media distribution. While it is early days still, in the MENA region, YahLive – the broadcast division of Abu Dhabi-based operator, Yahsat – under the leadership of CEO Mohamed Youssif, is putting together a bouquet of HD-only channels. Currently, Youssif has around 44 (mostly Arabic) channels signed up and is aiming for a total of 130 channels by 2013. He is already reaping the advantages of Ka-band with the smaller antenna size and the possibility to broadcast regional content within a limited geographical area.

Karl-Heinz Wenisch, CTO, Teracue AG – Broadcast & IPTV Systems: “We are showcasing our latest light-weight portable H264 HD-SDI encoder and decoder – as small as a chocolate bar – as well as our IPTV and DVB headend solutions for encoding, decoding, transcoding and playout. In the Middle East, we work with certified and trained partners such as Qvest Media FZ LLC in Dubai.”
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“While viewers can install small dishes in their balconies, thus overcoming the regulations with regard to satellite dishes on top of buildings, broadcasters have the unique ability to be region-specific based on their broadcast rights.”

One of the participants on the IBC panel, Serge Van Herck, CEO, Newtec, concurs on the issue of broadcast rights and says, “The spot beam advantage could prove very interesting for TV distribution over regions such as Europe or the Middle East. This is because the limited foot-print of the spot beam would avoid the current problem of prohibitive media content distribution rights.”

Echoing these sentiments, Roger Franklin, president and CEO of Crystal Solutions, in conversation with WTA’s Robert Bell, stated: “While broadcasters have more distribution channels, advertising revenue per channel tends to go down. With the increase in competition, content rights are extremely important. With an eye to contain costs, the emphasis is doing more with less – not increasing staff, but increasing channels.” With middleware technology to connect playout with downstream distribution channels, such as Crystal Connect, Franklin hopes to cater to an increasingly competitive and cost-conscious market.

A custom-modified version of the Crystal Solutions’ Sentry Monitoring Platform played its part recently, in collaboration with Intelsat General’s Carrier Monitoring System, towards restoring loss of TV transmission signals. Real-time collaborations of this nature underline the critical role that solutions providers play in reinforcing the trust in satellite-based broadcast solutions.

Alternatives to satellite?

As reported by BroadcastPro ME, Jordan-based pay TV network ART recently opted for an IP alternative to transmit its video services for Ramadan to its distribution centre in Italy instead of using the traditional satellite route. The installation, undertaken with the help of US-based

One Media Corp, helped ART reduce the cost of distributing its video services by almost 80%, according to Mustafa Tell, general manager of Arab Radio & Television Broadcasting Operations.

“Normally, it would have cost us about US $45,000-50,000 to uplink Ramadan programming over satellite to our distribution centre. We have reduced our costs substantially by using One Media Corp’s ONE CONNXT IP solution,” says Tell.

Seeing the results, other TV operators in the Middle East are also mulling over the use  of IP instead of satellite. Will this mark the beginning of the end broadcast via satellite? Experts do not think so.

Speaking to the press, WTA’s Robert Bell said, “It is very difficult to beat the economics of satellite. The ‘data replicator in the sky’ comes down to a million points on earth and there is no other transmission technology that does that.”

Iñaki Latasa Errecart, communications director, Hispasat Group: “We offer distribution of content in Spanish and Portuguese, including the transmission of DTH digital platforms and HDTV. We hope to meet new customers in North Africa and Europe and showcase the Hispasat satellite fleet at 30ºW and 61ºW. For the Middle East, with our new satellite Hispasat 1E, we offer good coverage and we hope to make new contacts during IBC.”
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For the IP alternative to be workable, Bell believes you would need ubiquitous 100 megabits per second retail distribution through the internet.  YahLive’s Youssif concurs and says, “We do not have sufficient bandwidth for HDTV over IP. What we believe will happen is that HD transmission will continue to take place over satellite and interactivity features of IPTV will be done over the internet.”

Adapting to the emerging content delivery solutions is the way forward. The previous year has been a happy one overall for the satellite market with growth boosted by video services and emerging regions, according to research from Euroconsult that indicates 7% capacity leasing revenue growth in 2011. Video distribution reportedly represented almost half of all transponder demand in 2011.

Gary Allen, sales manager, Peak Communications: “Products at IBC 2012 include synthesised and block frequency converters covering L-band and all primary SHF frequency bands, Test-Loop Translators, Beacon Receivers, Automatic Uplink Power Controllers, Line Amplifiers, Splitters/ Combiners, Multichannel Variable Gain Systems, Reference Generation/ Distribution, Redundant Switch Systems and LNB/BUC drivers.”
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Multi-network solutions in the real world

There is an undeniable evolution towards IP that is transforming processes at the very core on the production and distribution sides, as borne out by the Ramadan ‘experiment’ conducted by Mustafa Tell’s team. While satellite-based transmission will continue, he says, “We need to stress that we’re not thinking of sending our channels to the customers via the internet; we are thinking of sending it only to our distribution centres.”

At the ‘Multi-network solutions in the real world’ forum at IBC, experts will help break down the technical and business challenges that operators face with multi-network services. In today’s pay-TV environment, operators can leverage their existing DVB networks, whether satellite, cable or terrestrial, and add OTT functionality through the consumer’s own broadband links. With real-world examples of DVB plus OTT video rollouts, organisers of the forum hope to explain this new breed of multi-network architecture.

Nitin Dhawan, CEO, Belgium Satellite Service: “We will be showcasing the services we offer through our teleports based at Lessive and Liedekerke in Belgium, with an array of antennas up to 32 metres, working in Ku, ext Ku, DBS and C-Band. We are a carrier of TV and radio channels serving customers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The MEA satellite market, in particular, has reported tremendous growth in the last few years compared to the global average of 6-7% and looks to accelerate this growth in the coming decade. Through a strategic tie-in with Intersat Africa, BSS will offer customers fast, responsive internet via satellite.”
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Participating in the forum, Verimatrix’s CEO, Tom Munro will be highlighting cost effective broadcast security solutions while easing the transition to hybrid broadcast/IP network configurations (More innovations at IBC on page 42).

Cloud is on the horizon and in three years, Paul Scardino, VP, sales & marketing, Globecomm, says: “As solutions providers, we will need to demonstrate that customers can trust the cloud and it can drive revenues.”

Connected TV will probably be the most talked about issue in the hectic six days of IBC. We have been building up to connected TV for a long time. The moot question is does it change the way viewers fundamentally watch television and significantly, does it change the revenue model.

The broadcast mandarins advise us to look closely at traditional TV and its successful reinventions over the past two decades. With an understanding of why television has proved to be so resilient, we will begin to understand the complex nature of the business driven by technology but dependant heavily on the delivery and distribution of content and the all-important exercise of choice by viewers.

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