MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

Let me begin by hoping that all of you are safe and well in the face of the Coronavirus. This is an unprecedented global event and our hearts go out to everyone.

This month our magazine is devoted to Asian satellite broadcast trends. The broadest trend is that our video business is relatively flat – some regions are down while others are modestly up.

Dimitri Buchs of Euroconsult writes that although there has been a slowdown in new platform launches, there has been some growth with emerging markets adding new TV operations, and there have been channel additions in South Asia and South East Asia. Ironically, Dimitri notes, some of the countries with the strongest growth potential have regulatory barriers that could limit the development of the market, including China and Pakistan.

Terry Bleakley, Intelsat’s Regional Vice President, Asia-Pacific writes about satellite’s key role in advancing 5G broadcast and multicast streams enabling a variety of applications that require edge caching and local distribution.

Yew Weng Soo, Vice President, Sales and Market Development, Asia-Pacific at SES Video, reports on Media Partners Asia estimates that DTH subscribers in Asia-Pacific region (excluding China), currently at 105 million, will grow at a steady pace of 5% CAGR to hit 136 million by 2024.

Alan Crisp, of NSR Hong Kong, notes that APAC video broadcast markets are divided into several sub-verticals: C-band video broadcast; Ku-band DTH; and Ku-band regional free-to-air (FTA) content. He notes that most DTH platforms in APAC today are seeing flat to falling subscriber numbers, with ARPUs also remaining flat to negative.

As a response, DTH platforms across the region are working to diversify their business models, pushing into e-commerce and online advertising or expanding into UltraHD content, as well as integration of their existing platform with users’ other devices.

Within Asia, NSR forecasts the share of HD channels to increase from 19.7% to over 26% over the coming decade, with the largest increase in East Asia – from 37% to 54% HD. One counterbalancing factor, Euroconsult reports, has been the end of some SD/HD simulcasts which has reduced satellite utilization.

 

Bottom Line

The future of satellite broadcast in Asia-Pacific appears modestly brighter than elsewhere in the world. Some operators are able to count on their home markets to deliver a long-term DTH anchor client, including Sky Perfect JSAT, KTSat, Measat, and Vinasat.

Satellite operators will need to emphasize stickier services more attuned to the way consumers use media today, including increased integration of DTH and HTS capacity into “double-play” products and expanded deployment of village Wi-Fi and cellular solutions that can be paired to deliver broadband and video content.

If you want to better understand the latest satellite broadcasting trends in Asia and see why the future is brighter here than elsewhere in the world then read on.

And please stay safe!

 

Gregg Daffner
President, APSCC

Asian Satellite Video Market: Beating Market Trends

Dimitri Buchs, Senior Consultant, Euroconsult

 

Global video distribution trends

Changing trends in the satellite and video markets have started to impact the global satellite video market in recent years. On the satellite side, the industry has started to embrace the changes impacting the ICT sector with requirements of broadband connectivity “anywhere, anytime” opening up new markets, while challenging its legacy businesses, the largest one being video distribution. As a consequence, the satellite market is shifting from video to become increasingly data centric. On the video side, changes in viewing habits and the take-off of OTT with a growing number of services available globally have negatively impacted DTH subscriptions and the number of channels distributed by satellite.

 

Evolution of TV channels by region
Source: Satellite Connectivity and Video Markets Survey, 2019

According to Euroconsult research Satellite Connectivity & Video Markets Survey published last September, the global satellite video market has, over the past couple of years, observed a slowdown in both capacity usage and number of channels launched. In 2018, growth in capacity usage was the lowest since the start of the decade, confirming the lack of dynamism of the market already noted in 2017. TPE demand grew by 1% in 2018 (+25 TPEs) and was expected to have a similar growth trend in 2019. This growth, however, hides a structural shift between maturing TV markets and fast-growing economies. Key reasons for the shift include the following:

  • With pay-TV penetration high in North America (and relatively high in Europe), and with the rise of OTT/online TV, investments in linear video services are reduced.
  • The end of some SD/HD simulcasts is leading to decreasing capacity needs in some countries (e.g., U.K./U.S, Japan.).
  • Digital TV services in emerging economies are rising with the continued launch of new TV operations. Although a slowdown in new platform launches has occurred, growth potential remains for channel additions, notably in parts of Asia (e.g. South Asia, South East Asia) and in Sub-Saharan Africa. Worth highlighting is the fact that some of the countries with the strongest growth potential have regulatory barriers that could limit the development of the market (e.g. China, Pakistan).

Uncertainty remains on the pace of adoption for new quality standards (HD, UHD), the effects of new compression standards (HEVC) and competition from terrestrial and online services. HD should be the main driver as actual UHD channel additions have been limited since the introduction of the format with just over 130 UHD channels distributed in 2019, which raises concerns regarding adoption and future roll-outs across all regions.

Given recent trends and announcements, Euroconsult expects capacity demand for video distribution to remain largely stable over the next 5 years. This includes erosion in all mature TV markets and moderate growth in most emerging regions. The number of signals carried should decrease from around 44,000 in 2019 to just under 42,500 in 2028. This decrease will follow a period of strong growth in channels distributed globally during a large part of the 2010s (close to 15,000 channels added between 2010 and 2019).

 

Trends for video distribution services in Asia Pacific

Like in other world regions, trends for video distribution services in Asia Pacific will vary significantly depending on the sub-region and even at a country level. Maturing TV markets, led by South Asia and to a more limited extent South East Asia, are expected to be the main drivers of TV channel and capacity growth in the region. Overall, the number of satellite TV channels in Asia Pacific should grow from just over 10,500 TV channels in 2019 to 12,600 in 2028. South Asia should remain the largest sub-region throughout the forecast period. Looking at capacity usage, the number of transponders leased in the region should grow by close to 100 units between 2018 and 2028 to 850 transponders. HTS capacity usage in the region is currently limited and this should remain the case throughout the forecast period as HTS demand is expected to reach approximately 1 Gbps in 2028.

 

Share of HD channels by region (2018)
Source: Satellite Connectivity and Video Markets Survey, 2019
South Asia

Prior to 2018, South Asia had observed significant growth since the start of the 2010s, with the growth largely driven by a buoyant Indian DTH market. In the last couple of years, as in most other regions, the market growth has shown signs of slowing down. This slowdown can be attributed to different factors including the growing importance of OTT in the region but also more limited channel introductions for DTH platforms in India. Despite the recent slowdown, the region still represents a large untapped market as a large share of the population in rural areas still has no access or limited access to television services.

The number of channels distributed in South Asia is expected to reach approximately 5,760 in 2028 (+1,100 compared to 2018). Growth should mainly be supported by strong competition in pay-TV and the possible launch of new platforms in countries that do not have DTH platforms (e.g., Pakistan and Afghanistan). In the next 10 years, growth should also result from large HD rollouts as HD remains limited today compared to most other regions (1,300 new HD channels could be distributed by 2028).

 

North East Asia

North East Asia is the only Asian sub-region to observe a downward trend in its video distribution market over the past couple of years. The region has the most mature video market in Asia and terrestrial solutions are dominant in this region with limited opportunities for growth in the satellite TV market apart from new UHD rollouts. The region’s two pay-DTH platforms, namely, Sky PerfecTV in Japan and SkyLife in South Korea, account for close to three-quarters’ of capacity usage by video distribution services in North East Asia. In recent years, the market has seen significant decreases in the number of channels distributed and in capacity used, owing to the termination of SD/HD simulcasts by Sky PerfecTV in Japan but also because OTT subscriptions are gaining a stronger foothold in Japan and South Korea.

Transponder demand for broadcasting should decrease by close to 10 transponders to 73 transponders by 2028 while the number of TV channels should decrease to 550 units by 2028. The main driver after 2019 should be UHD. Japan and South Korea are expected to be pioneers for 4K and 8K development, with extra backing from Japan ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for 8K broadcasts.

 

China area

Despite the large size of the pay TV market in China (estimated to be >330 million subscribers making China the largest pay TV market in Asia Pacific by subscriber number) and the large number of satellite free-to-air households in the country, the regional market remains limited in size compared to other Asian markets for both TV channels distributed (~1,100) and capacity usage (~125 transponders). This can be explained by the fact that traditionally, the State has restricted the population from accessing DTH signals apart from unencrypted state-affiliated channels. Commercial satellite pay TV is restricted in China to certain hotels and foreign dwellings by the government’s strong regulations on foreign TV shows. The satellite TV market hence heavily relies on content produced locally. Growth opportunities exist mainly via the free-to-air market. A free-to-air DTH service is accessible via SAPPRFT’s Huhutong project whose main objective is to bring radio and TV to millions of people in the rural and mountainous parts of China, not covered by terrestrial means. The number of households using the service has increased in recent years.

 

South East Asia

In the past three years, the South East Asian video distribution market has decreased in size, with both TV channels and capacity usage on a downward trend. This declining trend is largely attributable to the DTH market. The recent decline in the regional DTH market can be explained by the large number of DTH platforms that have been set up in recent years creating fierce market competition amongst themselves and bringing in some saturation. Competition from terrestrial services is also taking some of the traditional satellite market share. Despite the recent lack of dynamism of the regional market, opportunities exist for the market to renew with growth. Despite the high number of active DTH platforms, additional platforms could be launched in several countries in coming years, as most countries in South East Asia are still at an early stage of pay-TV development (e.g. Indonesia, Laos…). HD is expected to be a key driver in the region as it currently accounts for 20% of total channels distributed in the region with more than 1,000 new HD channels expected to be launched in the next decade leading to capacity usage of close to 260 transponders by 2028.

 

Oceania

The video distribution market in Oceania (Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands) has remained largely stable in the past couple of years with both channels distributed (~950 channels) and capacity usage (~90 transponders) observing minor shifts during the period. The lack of dynamism can be explained by the fact that no new platforms/pay-TV services were rolled out in recent years. Foxtel (Australia) and Sky TV (New Zealand) remain the only DTH platforms in the region’s two biggest markets. In other islands, the small addressable market limits opportunities for new players as active players like Vini (French Polynesia) and Canal Caledonie already have strong footholds in the Pacific Islands. Video distribution growth should remain restricted by the maturity of the region’s two largest TV markets and the limited potential outside Australia and New Zealand. The growing popularity of video on demand has also led broadcasters to lay a growing emphasis on non-linear services at the expense of traditional broadcasting services. During the coming decade, both the number of channels distributed by satellite and capacity usage is expected to observe a moderate decrease in Oceania.

Overall, despite a challenging environment, opportunities remain for video distribution services in Asia Pacific, with maturing TV markets expected to lead the way.

Dimitri Buchs is a Senior Consultant of Euroconsult, based in Montreal, Canada. He specializes in the digital broadcasting sector. His expertise lies in analyzing market dynamics for video distribution and contribution services, regularly contributing to consulting projects and due diligence studies for satellite operators, service providers and equipment manufacturers where video broadcast is an essential part of the assessment.

Satellite Video in Asia-Pacific: A Market in Transition

Alan Crisp, Senior Analyst, NSR Hong Kong

 

For decades, the satcom industry has at the highest level been divided into two main sources of demand: video broadcast, and data connectivity. There are several major differences between these two buckets of demand, but the most important difference is that video broadcast has generally been more stable longer term and has a more predictable market. The result of this is that there have been few commercial communications satellites that have been funded by a data connectivity-type anchor customer, while most of the satellites over Western Europe and the Americas today have in some way been funded by broadcast anchor customers committing to a 10 or even 15-year contract.

This stability in video broadcast, the industry’s historical bread and butter, will remain, with no substantial growth expects, but also no substantial declines. With that said, in the world’s largest and most dynamic region, satellite video broadcast is in a state of transition, and this will mean changes for the industry and its associated actors.

 

The State of Play in the Broadcast Market

Today’s APAC video broadcast market can be divided into several sub-verticals. This would include C-band video broadcast, which is primarily free-to-air and broadcast over large areas; Ku-band DTH, which is paid content usually broadcast to a single country or region; and then some Ku-band regional FTA content. Whilst FTA distribution represents an important part of the market, Ku-band DTH tends to be by far the more important source of demand, with 10-15-year contracts being almost exclusively accounted for by DTH platforms (as opposed to regional FTA broadcasters, which tend to have shorter leases).

On the DTH side, most DTH platforms in APAC today are seeing flat to falling subscriber numbers, with ARPUs also remaining flat to negative. Whilst most DTH platforms in the region can count on a near-monopoly in their home market, ensuring that any decline in subscriptions and/or ARPU is a gradual one, there is nonetheless a definite shift occurring in the region, with more viewers turning to OTT and IPTV, while sometimes maintaining DTH subscriptions and also sometimes cutting the cord. Of more concern are the number of first-time TV subscribers that are using an OTT platform as their first pay TV product, with local competitors such as iflix pricing aggressively to compete with Netflix and others, while smaller niche OTT platforms fight for market share in individual countries. As a response, DTH platforms across the region are working to diversify their business models. Astro Malaysia has for a while now been pushing into e-commerce and online advertising, while Sky PerfecTV! (Japan) and KT SkyLife (South Korea) are both pushing more UltraHD content, as well as integration of their existing platform with users other devices. For example, Sky PerfecTV! began offering live coverage of all 12 teams in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) League (Japan’s highest division for baseball) to subscribers’ smartphones or tablets at no extra charge. With that being the case, DTH platforms in the region are still facing an environment of stagnant subscribers, flat ARPUs, and increasing costs. Whilst in the medium term, the future for DTH platforms in APAC remains fairly healthy, longer-term prospects are less clear, which is concerning to both DTH platforms and satellite operators. On the whole, pricing pressures on DTH platforms may not necessarily translate directly to pricing pressures on satellite capacity, as satellite capacity tends to be a small percentage of DTH platforms’ overall cost structure, and further advancements in satellite technology are also allowing for lower-cost bandwidth capacity to where “double-play” or “triple-play” options are feasible, with satellite offering both DTH and home internet.

At the same time, FTA platforms in APAC are not faring much better than DTH platforms. With a business model based on where advertisers pay the platforms for ad space, FTA platforms have faced increasing headwinds due to changing consumer preferences. Countries like the Philippines and Indonesia have the highest rates of social media consumption in the world, with the Digital in 2019 Report for instance, putting Philippines and Indonesia and No. 1 and No. 4 in the world with 4hrs 12 minutes and 3hrs 25mins of social media use per day, respectively. Essentially, eyeballs are being sent away from TV sets and towards phone screens at an increasing rate, and this will make it difficult for small-scale FTA advertisers in countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia to support their businesses. While this is a relatively small part of the overall market, such C-band FTA demand could be as much as 20% of regional video demand. The Chinese broadcast market is almost entirely C-band FTA broadcast, with the majority of content being broadcasted by government. Historically, most, if not all, provinces have had at least one TV channel, which has represented a small but important source of demand for China Satcom, and to a lesser degree APT Satellite. However, the ongoing economic slowdown in China, coupled with rapidly changing consumer preferences (China is No. 3 in the world for social media usage, just ahead of Indonesia), many provincial TV stations are falling on hard financial times, which may limit C-band broadcast demand inside of China.

 

The Satellite Operator Response

With video broadcast customers increasingly facing headwinds, satellite has evolved to more effectively compete in this rapidly-changing market. The advent of HTS has enabled satellite operators to offer more effective turnkey solutions to video broadcasters. For example, a global news agency can now use high-throughput Ka-band capacity for bandwidth intensive collection of information from the field, done via increasingly lower cost and mobile Ka-band terminals, while also using pan-regional C-band or Ku-band to broadcast the less bandwidth-intensive news. At the same time, cheaper bandwidth costs and better bandwidth efficiencies can also allow broadcasters to gradually upgrade the quality of their content, from SD to HD or, in a small but increasing number of cases, from HD to UltraHD. Within Asia, NSR forecasts the share of HD channels to increase from 19.7% to over 26% over the coming decade, with the largest increase from East Asia – from 37% to 54% HD channels over the same period.

 

Asia Video Distribution and DTH Channels
Source: NSR

These new markets which will be unlocked by lower-priced capacity are not limited to large broadcasters. For the above-mentioned regional FTA platforms, lower-cost capacity can allow them to increase their number of channels offered, or the quality of channels (or some combination) without increasing cost to their end customers. With the advent of even more HTS capacity, the line between video and data starts to blur, to some extent. For instance, APAC has seen efforts such as AsiaSat in Myanmar attempting to use (although widebeam Ku-band capacity in this case) to broadcast OTT content to VSATs that would then cache the content at local sites, serving small, unconnected villages with content. These opportunities, whilst difficult to identify and potentially even more difficult to scale, should only increase as the amount of available satellite capacity increases, and this will accelerate if companies continue to develop ground terminals that aim to serve very rural, unconnected, generally poor areas with affordable, easy-to-use satellite capacity.

The most apparent response from satellite operators to the increasing erosion of traditional video demand in parts of APAC has been to launch a lot more capacity, and try to offer more internet-based services as an addition to DTH broadcast. One example would be the 2019 procurement by Measat of Measat-3d, a satellite with a Ku-band DTH-oriented payload, as well as a Ka-band HTS payload that likely represents tens of Gbps of capacity almost entirely targeting Malaysia, i.e. several times more capacity than the existing Measat fleet. In a clear instance of a Ku-band DTH customer providing the financial foundation for the satellite, Measat also announced a $360M, 15-year contract with Astro for the entire Ku-band payload on Measat-3d. That the contract runs into the early 2030s should also be seen as a vote of confidence towards the stable, long-term nature of DTH. This is reflected in NSR’s Global Satellite Capacity Supply & Demand, 16th Edition study, which forecasts steady and stable video distribution and DTH demand over the coming decade.

 

Asia Video Distribution and DTH TPE Demand
Source: NSR
Bottom Line

The future of satellite broadcast in APAC, in a region with more than 4 billion people, and most of the world’s most rapidly-growing economies, is brighter than elsewhere in the world. Several operators will for the foreseeable future be able to count on their home markets to deliver them a stable, long-term DTH anchor client, with these including Sky Perfect JSAT, ktsat, Measat, and several country-level operators such as Vinasat of Vietnam.

APAC may still be home to several greenfield markets, including Central Asia and to some extent markets in South Asia – although these markets are becoming fewer and further between. We can look to Myanmar for instance to see that a market that opened rapidly, as Myanmar did in the mid-2010s, can grow quickly for several years, but ultimately became saturated quickly. That being the case, satellite operators will need to emphasize “stickier” services that are more attuned towards the way that consumers actually consume media today. This will include increased integration of HTS capacity into “double-play” type products, increased use of village Wi-Fi and other connectivity solutions that can be paired with video content, and other ways of utilizing what will be a truly massive increase in satellite capacity, and thus in opportunities to deliver that capacity to the customers who need it most.

Alan Crisp joined NSR in 2014, following a Hong Kong based engineering role at Aurecon. Crisp is the co-author of NSR’s annual M2M and IoT via Satellite report and also Linear TV and other video broadcasting reports. As a member of NSR’s Fixed Satellite Services (FSS) group, Crisp’s areas comprise of M2M and IoT communications – including both the satellite and terrestrial M2M landscape. Previous consulting experience includes forecast analysis and risk management of natural disasters in Manila, where he made recommendations to policymakers about backup and emergency telecommunication links for use in city and nationwide emergencies.

DTH and OTT Convergence in an Evolving Media Landscape

Yew Weng Soo, Vice President, Sales and Market Development, Asia-Pacific, SES Video

 

One interesting observation I made this past Chinese New Year as I did the regular visits to family and friends was how much our media diet has changed over the years. Top on everyone’s minds and lips was no longer the latest drama series on TV, but the hottest original content from Netflix, Amazon or Apple TV+.

Recent trends in the home entertainment landscape reflect this. While viewers enjoy the convenience and autonomy of being able to watch content on their own terms at their own time with Over-the-Top (OTT) streaming services, we can’t deny the fact that Direct-to-Home (DTH) and linear TV still serve the critical function of providing viewers the latest primetime TV entertainment, “live” local news updates, and access to other “live” events.

Changing lifestyles and viewing habits have led to a drastic change in the average consumer’s media diet in recent years.
(Photo courtesy of SES)
DTH and OTT continue to grow as more viewers gain access

With changing lifestyles and viewing habits, many predicted the end of linear TV as subscription-based Video-on-Demand (SVOD) and OTT services grew in popularity. Yet the results from an ABI Research study show that this is far from true.

Worldwide Pay-TV numbers are in fact continuing to grow at a steady pace and are expected to hit more than 1.1 billion subscribers by 2024(1). Similarly, a separate report by Media Partners Asia (MPA) and Ampere Analysis estimates that DTH subscribers in Asia-Pacific region (excluding China), currently at 105 million, will grow at a steady pace of 5% CAGR to hit 136 million by 2024.

At the same time, SVOD subscribers in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding China) will grow from 76 million in 2019 to reach 154 million in 2024(2). As you can see, numbers are growing for both DTH and SVOD sectors. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that more viewers in the region are now gaining access to these platforms through better connectivity, and the fact that “live” TV entertainment, news and sports are still big with viewers at home.

Consumers demand easy access to content, wherever they are.
(Photo courtesy of SES)

Take for example Indonesia. Nex Parabola, a local DTH operator, came to SES because it had successfully secured the exclusive broadcasting rights for the 2019/20 football seasons of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. It wanted to reach audiences across all the islands in the vast Indonesian archipelago and in premium HD format too. There is no better way to do that than to leverage the unparalleled reach and broadcast quality of satellite. Just this month, Nex Parabola will be using the same SES-9 satellite’s reach to broadcast the 2020/21 Badminton World Federation World Tours to viewers across the country.

At the same time, Indonesia is also a fast-developing and competitive market where mobile penetration, broadband internet accessibility and growing affluence are on the rise. As a result, the country has seen even its local ride-hailing operator Gojek get into the game with the launch of an OTT streaming service, evidence that there is much growth to come.

DTH and SVOD viewership numbers continue to grow at a steady pace in APAC, aided in part by improved connectivity in large parts of the region.
(Photo courtesy of SES)
Bundled internet, DTH and OTT offerings the way forward

Given the modern-day penchant for convenience and one-touch solutions, it is but a natural progression for internet service providers (ISPs), DTH and OTT players to converge into all-in-one network infrastructure and content delivery platforms. It is a win-win situation all around. Not only do the content providers make a logical add-on for ISPs to attract new subscribers, but ISPs also provide the infrastructure needed by OTT players to reach new viewers in otherwise unreachable areas. DTH players will also be able to offer their services at a much more competitive price point given current market pressure and price competition. This bundling approach also helps operators to reach various demographic groups within a market that consume entertainment differently.

This trend for convergence is already playing out in markets like India, which remains the single largest DTH market in Asia Pacific. DTH continues to grow at an accelerating pace in this competitive market, which saw an increase of 4.9 million more active DTH subscribers in FY2019 to hit a total of 69.3 million active DTH subscribers by the end of September 2019(3). This was more than the 3.9 million active subscriber growth we saw in FY2018.

Local players such as Bharti Airtel have launched quad-play offerings combining voice telephony, broadband internet access, DTH linear TV as well as several OTT streaming platforms in recent months. This has also prompted DTH operator Dish TV to announce plans for an android set-top box to match their offerings. Similarly, Tata Sky Binge now offers viewers an all-in-one platform where they can watch linear DTH content alongside streaming content from various other OTT platforms.

Further afield, DTH operators Canal+ in France and Sky Deutschland in Germany have also launched ad-driven OTT services to their DTH offerings, to provide more content and a more all-rounded entertainment experience for their viewers.

ISPs, DTH and OTT players are converging to provide consumers with the convenience of all-in-one network infrastructure and content delivery platforms.
(Photo courtesy of SES)
Towards a hybrid future?

In the race for viewer’s eyeballs, convergence is the name of the game. Viewers today demand a seamless experience when switching between platforms – be it entertainment on OTT streaming or primetime TV, “live” current affairs and sports content on satellite-enabled DTH, viewers demand an all-in-one entertainment package.

The key for DTH players then is to stay close to the ground and adapt nimbly to changes in technology, market demand and viewer lifestyles and habits, as with the above examples. Yet this is sometimes easier said than done. This is especially so when consumer demand requires that all operators focus on creating seamless, buffer-less, synchronised and crystal-clear viewing experiences on all viewing platforms — even when distributing bandwidth-heavy content, such as “live” sporting events.

As an online viewer myself, another area that streaming platforms have used to differentiate themselves is by adopting AI-powered recommendation tools to give a more personalised experience to viewers. We believe that this will continue to be a trend, and OTT players should develop even greater personalised experiences, driven by advancements in data analytics and the volume and variety of user generated data these platforms will be able to access.

Apart from compelling content, the AI behind this simple customisation will continue to be an area which retains audiences, and we can only expect to see more of this in future. Looking ahead, we also expect to see digital video advertising create more new monetisation opportunities across DTH, OTT and converged platforms, but this can only be done right if you are correctly tagging the content and formatting it for the dedicated platform when providing a live streaming or video on demand (VoD) experience.

Viewers at home will benefit most from access to more content, more convenience and better viewing quality than ever before.
(Photo courtesy of SES)

DTH and SVOD viewership numbers continue to grow at a steady pace in APAC, aided in part by improved connectivity in large parts of the region. (Photo courtesy of SES)

While there is no one way to get content distributed across multiple devices, it has become increasingly evident that managing multiple content distribution systems independently results in higher costs and decreased operational efficiency in the long-term. Companies who have kept content distribution processes separate due to the fear of disrupting established workflows may find themselves at a disadvantage and on the losing end in this ultra-competitive landscape.

In the meantime, the ultimate winner, it seems, are viewers at home who will benefit from access to more content, more convenience and better viewing quality than ever before.

(1)Far From Dead: Worldwide Pay TV Market to Surpass 1.1 Billion Subscribers in 2024, ABI Research, Aug 2019.
(2) Media Partners Asia and Ampere Analysis, 2019.
(3) The India Telecom Services Performance Indicators July – September 2019, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Sep 2019.

Yew Weng Soo is Vice President, Sales and Market Development, Asia-Pacific at SES Video. He is responsible for driving business strategy and commercial activities in the Asia-Pacific video market. With over 25 years of industry experience, Soo brings to SES Video a proven record of achieving business growth and deep understanding of customers’ needs. Previously Managing Director of Globecast Asia, Soo has also worked for Intelsat, Loral CyberStar, and Verestar.

Satellite and the 5G Revolution

Terry Bleakley, Asia Pacific Regional Vice President, Intelsat

 

The fifth generation of mobile networks, or 5G, will enable entirely new technology applications, foster new business innovations and spur significant economic growth around the world. It also holds tremendous opportunity for the global satellite industry.

Each generation of mobile network technology has delivered improved capabilities and services to consumers around the world. In the 1990s, 2G introduced us to digital voice communications, expanded coverage and text messaging. Then, 3G put the mobile Internet and multimedia content at our fingertips. Ten years ago, 4G brought us mobile broadband, high-speed data and smartphones.

With speeds of up to 100 times faster than 4G, 5G will enable applications many of us have only previously dreamed about. Think smart cities, connected cars and other futuristic, next generation connected technology – they will all be powered by the 5G revolution.

Mobile network operators (MNOs), in particular, will benefit from 5G speeds, connecting an even wider array of devices and supporting an even broader range of use cases. From massive amounts of Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity to mission critical communications, 5G will enable MNOs around the world to deliver fast, reliable and cost-effective data-intensive communications services that have previously been too difficult, too cost prohibitive, or both.

Mapped onto 5G use cases, space-based platforms can also help MNOs deliver multi-gigabyte speeds anywhere in the world for enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB). This matters because the earliest 5G deployments are likely to center around the eMBB use cases in dense urban areas. However, by including space-based networks, operators can quickly and cost-effectively expand their 5G services beyond city centers, and into remote, rural and challenging areas, to help support a wider variety of use cases.

The GSMA characterizes the 5G era as an “age of boundless connectivity and intelligent automation.” More than any previous mobile generation, 5G technology will undoubtedly expand connectivity to more people, communities, devices and networks than ever before.

Realizing 5G’s true potential and meeting the requirements for a diverse set of use cases, however, will require new ways of designing and delivering mobile network connectivity and coverage. More so than any previous generation, 5G will rely on numerous technologies, including 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, software-defined networking (SDN) and edge computing and caching to name just a few. All of these technologies will work together to create a flexible, programmable “network of networks” to which all “access” technologies will need to adhere to.

That’s good news for the satellite industry. 5G promises to dramatically change how satellite is integrated into the mainstream telecommunications space. With 5G, we’ll achieve full interoperability within a transformative, end-to-end network. This is an exciting time for everyone in the satellite space.

 

Satellite’s Longstanding Role in Connecting the Unconnected

Satellite operators have long played a key role in connecting rural and remote communities around the world. We can go where terrestrial infrastructure can’t, accessing people in areas that land-based fiber and tower assets alone can’t reach.

Today, companies like Intelsat are taking a more holistic approach and utilizing integrated land-space networks to bring 3G and 4G connectivity to hard-to-reach communities, remote industrial sites and sparsely populated rural areas. And, we provide the cellular backhaul services and bandwidth capacity required to connect the ever-increasing number of mobile devices, sensors and other mobile touch points around the globe.

In many ways, the 5G revolution is already here. New 5G network standards – including those integrating satellite interoperability – are being finalized, testbeds are proving the technology worldwide and the first commercial services have already launched.

Intelsat has long known that satellites would play a key role in helping to realize 5G’s full potential. After all, satellites are uniquely positioned to facilitate the fast and flexible build-out of global 5G infrastructure, and to help bring seamless, ubiquitous connectivity to people all over the world.

That’s why we’ve been at the forefront of the industry-wide drive for universal, interoperability standards that have made it easier to integrate satellite into the 5G network of networks. And, it’s why we welcome the progress made at the recent 3GPP meeting, which confirmed space-based networks are a key part of 5G. We also look forward to continued progress on satellite-integration standardization at the next World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC).

 

The Case for Space-based 5G Solutions

The satellite industry has come a long way, and it’s exciting to see so many innovations taking place today. Our advanced, space-based technologies can do things that land-based solutions will never be able to, and these differentiators will prove invaluable when it comes to realizing 5G’s full potential.

We all know that a small constellation of satellites can cover virtually all of the inhabited Earth’s surface, for example. Even one satellite can cover a more massive number of potential subscribers than any terrestrial network. There are no distance, topography or line-of-sight constraints with satellites, and satellites aren’t impacted by natural disasters or human conflict.

Space-based platforms are also uniquely positioned to deliver continuous, ubiquitous coverage worldwide, and consistent, reliable coverage to targeted regions. In addition, satellites can rapidly provide backhaul for added resiliency of an entire network in an existing coverage area.

The satellite industry continues to innovate, advancing new user-friendly, high-performance technologies that can be easily integrated into enterprise networks. Next-generation high-throughput satellite (HTS) systems, for example, are delivering up to 10 times more throughput, and software-defined satellites are enabling unprecedented performance and flexibility.

Never forget that what differentiates satellites, also makes us invaluable in the 5G network of networks. Truly universal, ubiquitous 5G will be satellite-enabled 5G.

(Photo courtesy of Intelsat)
5G Satellite Broadcast and Multicast

While satellite’s role in cellular-backhaul applications is often the first example that comes to mind when thinking of satellite’s role in 5G, it’s important to note that satellite is also playing a key role in advancing critical 5G broadcast and multicast use cases.

Space-based networks are well equipped to transmit multimedia content via broadcast and multicast streams, and these capabilities are already enabling 5G use cases for consumer multimedia services, as well as a variety of applications that require edge caching and local distribution.

By broadcasting certain data or media to the network edge, whether it’s for local content caching or software updates for edge servers, satellite providers can help network operators more efficiently manage traffic and network capacity, preserving wireless spectrum for more latency-sensitive services.

In the case of the connected car, for example, multicasting will allow OTT media or software updates to stream to millions of cars simultaneously, significantly reducing the congestion that would otherwise be put on the base station.

Edge computing such as Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) is a key feature of 5G networks, as performance and low-latency targets require processing to be distributed from centralized data centers to edge servers closer to users. Space-based platforms can provide high-capacity backhaul connectivity and multicasting to large numbers of edge servers over wide areas, complementing the land network with cost-effective scalability.

 

What’s Next for Satellite and 5G

It’s clear that 5G presents a tremendous opportunity for the satellite industry to integrate into a transformative new connected ecosystem, whether its cellular backhaul service, broadcast and multicast services or an innovative new application waiting in the wings. The 5G infrastructure of the future will be driven by a fully integrated space and ground connectivity experience. The next few years are critical for our industry, as integration standards are finalized and use cases scale.

Buckle up, it’s sure to be an exciting ride.

Terry Bleakley is Intelsat’s Regional Vice President, Asia-Pacific. He is responsible for management of sales and marketing activities throughout the region. Prior to this, he was in senior sales and management roles in PanAmSat (2000-2006) and MEASAT (2006-2010). Bleakley earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Aviation and Business Studies from Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand.