Satellite technology powers digital signage

by Staff Reporter | March 17th, 2012

The advantage of satellite technology to transmit large amounts of high quality content to a number of locations, securely, reliably and cost-effectively, makes it the superior alternative to traditional telecommunications providers, write Paul Prosser and Merv Kuek of Newsat Ltd

If you find your digitally connected signage is limited by a conventional telecommunications provider, who often distributes information via traditional means such as cable, satellite technology may be the solution you are looking for. When used in conjunction with  terrestrial networks for traditional IT functions and user collaboration, satellite-based digital signage capability also provides the ideal disaster recovery solution, for protection against terrestrial connection failure caused by human error or natural disasters.

Mode of distribution is key

Digitally connected signage, also known as digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising, is a method of communicating to potential customers whilst they are “out and about”. Digitally connected signage enables companies to communicate with customers through targeted up-to-date content and messages, tailored to specific audiences at specific locations and times.

This then influences the customers’ short-term decision making, yielding a return on investment for the company. When launching and operating a digitally connected signage network, a vast majority of the project time is allocated to content and context. Often little time is devoted to the way this content is distributed to digital signs. The ongoing operating costs can represent a significant component when measuring the return on investment for the solution.

Many companies utilise conventional telecommunications providers to run all the content through traditional means, such as cable or fibre optic technologies, without reviewing alternative viable communications’ methods. Conventional cable or fibre optic technologies are suited to point-to-point communications and not to broadcasting large amounts of the same digital content to a range of geographically dispersed display locations.

Proof of concept

For proof of concept trials of digitally connected signage, existing cable or fibre optic communications are suitable. However, having to share network and bandwidth capabilities with other management systems such as POS, data, internet and voice, can prove to be problematic.

Staged rollout

The next step to take into consideration is staged rollout. The choice of infrastructure to support rollout, be it cable, fibre optics or satellite, is seen as less critical than the other components of digitally connected signage, such as content, context, feedback, SW choice, HW choice and screen size. Therefore, in this case, conventional cable or fibre optics access via the IT department is usually chosen.

Additional signage locations

Each new location requiring connection to the digital signage network requires a communication link to the central digital content development store. When the new location is physically in place and has current communications using terrestrial capabilities, then the volume of information within the digital signage solution needs to be applied to the LAN/WAN capabilities.

In most cases additional capacity needs to be acquired or alternatively existing user level SLA‘s may need to be enforced. New wisdom suggests that a significant review of the infrastructure to support rollout, is equally important as the other components. This will greatly dictate the scalability, cost and ROI of the overall solution.

Digitally connected signage via satellite

Efficient and cost-effective

Digitally connected signage and multicasting are synonymous with the need to transmit content to a number of locations simultaneously with one transmission. Satellite technology provides the most efficient and cost effective means of transmitting and receiving data.

Clients have the ability to multicast information from a single point, providing a faster and more efficient method of delivering content across large geographic areas. All sites within a secure and private network are configured to receive content simultaneously, therefore providing a more cost-effective method to deliver information to multiple locations.

According to the most recent Digital Signage Expo (DSE) quarterly Business Barometer, which analyses research data collected from 447 digital signage providers (84% in North America), over a quarter of future company budgets will be absorbed by “deployment and delivery” activities. In fact, the investment required in “hardware, deployment and delivery”, averages over 45% of budgets.

Therefore, selecting the most cost affordable communications service is paramount for any digital signage business and all alternatives including satellite, should be considered.

Satellite technology is ideal for not only digitally connected signage, but also for applications such as digital cinema, tele-medicine, e-learning and other broadcasting applications.

Reliability and scalability

Satellite communications ensure there is only one network to manage. Other delivery options with comparable footprints usually require multiple terrestrial connectivity vendors, therefore reducing efficiency. Satellite communications also have the advantage of scalability and rapid deployment, quickly establishing a broadband network virtually anywhere and unlike terrestrial options, are unaffected by damage to physical lines or cables.

With satellite based networks, each new location needs simply to have a satellite dish installed, connected in the location to the digital content system and pointed to the chosen satellite in the sky, with no impact on inter-location communications.

Disaster recovery

A satellite network can also serve as a standby back-up for terrestrial networks and pays for itself in a digital media solution. Clients use the satellite network during “normal mode” for broadcasting applications. However, in the event of a disaster when terrestrial networks fail, mission critical voice and data traffic can be re-routed over the secure satellite network until terrestrial communications are restored, enabling the core business to function without disruption.

Benefits of satellite technology

• Most efficient means of transmitting content

• Multiple locations configured to receive content simultaneously

• Cost-effective and scalable with incremental ROI

• As signage network grows satellite capacity stays the same

• Multicast content from a single point across large geographical areas

• Secure and private network

• Manage one network, compared to multiple terrestrial vendors

• Less connection points (potential failure points) than traditional network

• Rapid deployment and greater geographical reach

• Not affected if terrestrial/traditional networks are disrupted

• Can serve as a back-up network for terrestrial networks

Practical application

Seven years ago, one of Australia’s largest retail chains established satellite transmission as a cornerstone of delivery of content and corporate communications to its 800+ stores. Customers and staff are now kept informed about new products, special offers and the latest information, via digital signage displays throughout each store.

They have summarised the key outcomes of this project as:

• The ability to deliver content by satellite “one-to-many” so that all stores concurrently  receive exactly the same content, boosting efficiency, effectiveness and consistency.

• The ability to deliver content via their own private satellite network, providing security, safety, and reliability.

• Satellite bandwidth remains the same over time no matter how many sites are rolled out, resulting in rapid ROI and minimal administration.


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