The first speaker was Karim Michel Sabbagh of SES, the relatively new President and CEO of SES who said that the aim of satellite is to be on the sea, on the land and in space. He started by talking about the Quantum of the Seas – an ocean liner which has more connectivity than the combined connectivity of all the other cruise ships around. (We covered some display aspects of the ship in a Display Daily [An Interesting Display Application: Virtual Balconies]). This level of bandwidth means that the connectedness is the same as being on land.
The ship is supported via a satellite beam with low latency and provides 1Gbps (the industry standard is 10Mbits for a single ship) and it took five years to achieve this level of coverage wherever the ship goes.
Turning to the land, there is a lot happening. In Germany, for example, Sky has 250 channels which go directly to the home, it has video going to cable head ends and also to IP networks for OTT distribution as the satellite is acting as the distribution backbone. SES is managing a lot of services for Sky including storage and advert insertion. Other services include encoding and encryption as well as VOD support as the company extends beyond basic satellite operation.
Video is the big driver of connectivity and SES sees no real limit on demand for video. In the near future, SES expects 90% of all the digital bits that are being delivered to be video content. For the consumer, the huge expansion of capacity is academic. They just want something better.
Sabbagh sees a need for UltraHD standards to get the market moving as there is clearly a demand for better content. In developing regions, there is a huge growth opportunity for satellite as few consumers have access to a high quality Pay TV service.
Turning to space from the land, there are big technology changes happening there too. Innovations in satellites operation and deployment are coming faster and at lower cost than ever before and that will drive new applications and opportunities.
SES now reaches 312 million homes and that means more than a billion viewers are using the SES infrastructure to get their entertainment.
SES demonstrated UltraHD transmission into a cable head end at the recent NAB show. Sabbagh said that it generated a lot of interest as it was not thought that it could be done.
He said that SES sees its function as “delivering a differentiated experience to the consumer”.