Home / ANALYSIS / Satellite makes play for UHD

Satellite makes play for UHD

by Adrian Pennington on Oct 10, 2015

Direct-to-home (DTH) can reach parts of the world that others can’t, but that universal selling point isn’t enough to guarantee its survival. Satellite DTH needs to evolve and UHD is a strong answer.

Satellite faces competition from superfast fibre optic broadband. In the UK, telco BT TV last month launched Europe’s first live Ultra HD channel over its existing network which is capable of 300 Mbps download speeds.

The operator is already testing upgrades to the fibre and copper network capable of delivering 800 Mbps downloads and 200 Mbps uploads for rollout nationwide beginning next year. It is doing so to compete with Liberty Global-backed Virgin Media which is ploughing €4.1bn into Project Lightning, a major expansion of its own cable network and Sky, which teamed with ISP TalkTalk to plan a 1 Gbps network in the country.

In France, the government has pledged a universal connection of at least 50Mb/s by 2022 funded by €20bn over ten years. Left unattended these interventions could spell market loss for satellite operators like SES through which 6 million French homes and 12 million UK homes receive TV.

However SES has its eyes on a 4K prize. “We are convinced UHD will drive our business forward in France and in the rest of the world over the next five years as more and more UHD TV sets are sold and operators as well as broadcasters gradually endorse the format,” Nick Stubbs, the company’s VP for Western Europe said.

If 4K becomes a reality in France sooner rather than later, as telecoms consultancy NPA believes, the satellite operator will have a small window of opportunity to grab market share before 2022, the target dates set by French officials for the widespread implementation of very high bandwidth cable.

“We are rearing to go,” said Tom Cristophony, SES senior manager for sat/IP networks systems. “SES is ready to broadcast 300 to 400 UHD channels from one single orbital position as from now. We have the right capacity, the wide coverage ability and the reliability required for UHD. ADSL does not have the bandwidth to compete and most digital terrestrial operators will probably not have sufficient financial clout to massively broadcast in UHD.”

In readiness this June, SES launched its first UHD demonstration channel for the North American television market to enable cable operators to prepare and test UHD.


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