Mixed Signals

Satellite 2012: OTT-Broadband TV Is Here, What's Next?

3/28/2012 10:34 PM

My 20th Satellite Name-The-Year event just came and went in Washington, DC, March 14-16.

And thus far, 2012 is already clearly a year of yearning for the world’s satellite providers. They yearn for the good old times of the past, but, more importantly, they yearn for a clearer future.

That is because on the business-to-business side, terrestrial fiber threatens to take business away in the lucrative and so-called “contribution” and “distribution” sides of the business. Put into lay terms, the CBS’ of the North American network TV business, for example, are making the Fixed Satellite Service providers like Intelsat and SES work harder for their future carriage agreements.

They are doing this by suggesting that a fiber optic provider like a Level 3, AT&T, Hibernia or The Switch can do the job of carrying an event telecast from the west coast to the east coast as well one day soon, and perhaps more cheaply, than the FSS guys do now. And that makes satellite providers nervous.

This is also because as TV shows transition from traditional satellite, cable, and telco video infrastructures to Internet infrastructures, in the form of online video offered by the Netflixes and Amazons and Blockbusters of the world, satellite providers struggle with whether and to what extent satellite will fit in. Indeed, the so-called Over-The-Top or online video transition has already clearly begun. And that makes satellite providers nervous.

Indeed, one question at a recent Satellite 2012 general session asked, “When will (or can) satellites become a seamless part of tomorrow’s telecom infrastructure?” And what was most interesting was not how the question was answered, but rather that the question was not answered.

And that is because thus far the satellite industry is still working with the broadcast, cable, and online industries to discover that perfect alliance. Moreover, that alliance, in any form, is just beginning and, arguably, is already years behind.

It’s time to catch up. And, indeed, knowing this culture as I do, my prediction is that come my 25th-30th Satellite Name-The-Year event - especially because of the huge bandwidth needs tied to video on mobile devices - the pie will have grown for each traditional stakeholder, including the satellite guys. Indeed, there are already several key solutions those stakeholders are putting in place to achieve this “seamless” solution.

Jimmy Schaeffler is chairman and CSO of Carmel-by-the-Sea-based consultancy The Carmel Group (www.carmelgroup.com). He can be reached at jimmy@carmelgroup.com.

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