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Published on 5 Apr 2018

By: Eddie Ferraro, Managing Director, Globecast Americas and Mike Antonovich, CEO Eutelsat Americas

Q: Regarding the joint MCPC announcement you’ve just made, what’s the significance of this C-Band platform and why is it important?

EF: The launch of our new MCPC (Multiple Channels Per Carrier) platform with Eutelsat has a lot of relevance throughout the Americas because much of the market is looking for diversity in their providers, technology upgrades and of course more economical options. There’s an increased demand for the distribution of TV networks but currently a lack of affordable options for content providers.

MA: Right, what this new service offers both existing and startup TV networks is a satellite neighborhood with a one satellite solution for distribution throughout the Americas, a large installed CATV headend base, a new encoding platform that supports the launch of efficient HD delivery and a roadmap to support advanced distribution of UHD services.

Q: Whom does this new platform benefit the most and how?

EF: We think it really benefits television programmers, broadcasters and content rights holders that are seeking a flexible, simple way to get their content across the Americas. In Latin America, for example, there’s a bit of a capacity strain, so this gives them a cost-effective option. The MCPC is a really rich media platform with integrated services.

MA: Another important benefit is that EUTELSAT 117 West A is already a leading video neighborhood for the region and provides a robust platform to reach these new audiences across the Americas efficiently, while providing backup and room for growth on EUTELSAT 113 West A. It’s a very unique satellite neighborhood, four degrees apart, on the same frequency and polarization plan. Coupled with an extensive Antenna Seeding Program that offers cable operators a single antenna system to look at both birds (or a simple retrofit kit for existing antennas), we are creating a “protected” neighborhood and the ground system to support it.

Q: In the face of competition from fiber/CDN/internet delivery, there’s been some talk of how satellite is declining in market share. How do you think satellite will stay viable and fit into the future of TV?

EF: There’s certainly no doubt that cord cutting has gained momentum over the past few years, but is it really a serious threat to cable and satellite service providers? The straight answer to this is no. The widespread distribution of TV content using satellite is not only still very relevant but growing. Latin America, specifically, is still very ripe for the growth of services and new channels.

MA: Quite right. Mainstream programmers are unlikely to vacate a satellite as there is no more efficient broadcast distribution model. In addition, satellite systems adapt; where we once transmitted analog TV signals, we now transmit digital SD and HD signals. Satellite will always adapt and find ways to efficiently serve any widespread mass market like television distribution.

Q: What makes satellite and its solutions for distribution continue to be a valid route for broadcasters/content providers?

EF: Well, as a broadcaster you want to offer the best content in the most reliable way to reach new viewers. Satellite is still the most cost-effective method of distributing content to wide audiences because of its universal reach and its service quality. It’s really the only technology that can reach 100 percent of the population, which is especially important in emerging markets and large territories with dispersed populations. These are the core benefits it has over internet-delivered services.

MA: And best of all, from a customer’s perspective, satellite delivery, whether SD, HD, UHD or IPTV, is a fixed cost model. There is no incremental bandwidth cost or monthly variable charge on satellite. Customers love that!

Q: What factors are involved when considering coverage area, and why a C-band beam over the Americas? Is there room for satellite to grow in the future, or has it hit its tipping point?

EF: We definitely haven’t seen satellite hit its tipping point. There’s still plenty of room for growth and C-band in particular provides the best solution for covering a wide area. Ku-band is limited to specific countries, and while its role is important in DTH and focused distribution platforms, C-band is still the overwhelming choice for channels that need to reach a broad geographic area.

MA: And it really is about different business models. At Eutelsat we build C, Ku and Ka-band payloads for a variety of markets and applications. We of course love Ku-band DTH offerings, and supports DTH customers throughout the Americas and throughout the world. But C-band for cable and broadcast distribution is still an incredibly important market, with C-band offering the very highest reliability for national TV networks and primary cable services. And every year, like with this new platform, we improve the technologies, offering higher performance at lower costs than ever before.

Q: What are the cost benefits of using satellite vs. other forms of distribution?

EF: In the long run satellite will save customers money because it scales easily. Yes, you have upfront costs, but satellite is flexible in that you’re able to build on and expand your marketplace with low incremental costs. With fiber, you have a lengthy timescale for getting up and running. But satellite is available everywhere all the time.

MA: Satellite continues to be the best “any to any” (contribution from anyplace in the world) and “one to many” (distribution) transmission medium available. It is a fixed, predictable cost model and adapts to any transmission protocol, including IP. That’s about as “future proof” as you can get.

Q: As 4K content becomes more available, what’s satellite’s role in that distribution market?

EF: 4K is a bit complex in that it takes a lot of bandwidth to allow for reliable 4K streaming, and many consumers’ broadband connections just aren’t fast enough. Advanced modulation techniques allow for satellite to easily accommodate the demands of 4K. So it’s an effective way to get 4K content out there on a widespread basis.

MA: Today’s challenge is the lack of “4K readiness” with our downstream customers, the DTH and cable TV providers, who need network upgrades and/or 4K-ready set top boxes for their customers.  But many programmers already capture much of their content with 4K cameras, and many consumers already are buying 4K-ready sets. So just like when HD first came out, there is a lag in the market. But we’re ready when our customers are ready!