With 3.7 billion people globally not connected to broadband, satellite is still the core of what is needed to distribute video and connect people. This was the recurring sentiment at the recently concluded Satellite Industry Forum.
The Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA), a Hong Kong and Singapore-based media industry body, hosted its annual Satellite Industry Forum on November 18 as a virtual conference, to end off the Asia Video Summit umbrella of events this year.
The Forum opened with a look at satellite trends and forecasts post-Covid with Caleb Henry, Senior Analyst, Quilty Analytics.
The traditional satcom industry continues to be in a state of rapid change, and still in a state of turmoil. While the industry is currently dominated by a handful of major players, this could also change dramatically over the next five years as new technologies and standards reset the competitive landscape. And despite the impact of Covid, there has been no let-up of interest in investment into the space industry with $5.5BN in collective proceeds from all 13 space SPACs, the opening presentation emphasized, according to AVIA.
The Forum was also privileged to host Stephen Spengler for his final keynote before he steps down as CEO of Intelsat. Spengler had spoken at the Satellite Industry Forum for his first keynote as CEO in 2015, hence it was fitting the Forum was his final address as well.
While the industry continues to innovate and push the boundaries of what is possible, it has yet to reach its full potential in fulfilling its essential role in the global telecommunications landscape. With digital video making up 70 percent of Internet traffic, satellite remains the essential and enabling technology, with the ubiquity, reach and economics to serve the networks, Spengler said.
Spengler’s outlook on industry trends for Asia remains positive, with linear and pay TV distribution still a driving application for the Asia Pacific region, which is witnessing a growth rate of 2.5 percent per year.
The Intelsat CEO was also excited about 5G being a huge enabler and game changer. With the satellite fully integrated into the 5G world, it will make solutions and services more seamless, interconnected, and economical, he said.
Wrapping up his keynote address, Spengler shared Intelsat’s mission to unify the global telecoms ecosystem of the future. The vision requires all satellite and terrestrial technologies, networks and providers, and solutions and services to be unified as one global ecosystem.
“If we focus on our customers, the people who benefit from a more connected world, that is success for the next year and beyond,” said Spengler.
Asia Pacific’s leading satellite operators also shared similar positive sentiments despite the move from broadcast to streaming. Yau Chyong Lim, COO, MEASAT, believes that satellite will still be the main platform to deliver video services nationwide in Malaysia, and it is the platforms themselves which are transforming their services to include streaming. Hence broadcast and streaming will complement each other, with linear still having a role to play, and streaming alongside it.
Similarly in Australia, despite a plethora of streaming services available, Nick Leake, Head of Satellite and Space Systems, Optus, still sees the same requirements for satellites to go out for at least another 10 years.
The greatest issue for Asia Pacific remains one of scale, in order to provide reliable networks to serve the customers, added Roger Tong, CEO, AsiaSat. Tong believes that moving forward, creating more partnerships between competing satellite operators is important, especially when regulatory restrictions on consolidation remain a key challenge in the region.
Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman, Bharti Enterprises and Executive Chairman, OneWeb, also joined the Forum this year for a keynote conversation on the space business in India.
With the holy grail of low latency, high speed and sufficient capacity resolved by NGSOs, it has become a solution that works for the new world and into the future. 5G too is seen as a game changing technology for Mittal as its extremely low latency makes it ideal for industry applications.
However, Mittal also noted that while NGSOs will have an important role to play in the 5G ecosystem, it will only be at the periphery of supporting 5G ambitions. He also shared OneWeb’s vision to connect all areas of the world — from oceans to aviation.
“In 5 years’ time. . . there should not be anybody in the world that is not connected,” said Mittal.