Equipment and software suppliers are planning for a radically different future for the broadcasting industry – one that could see the home TV become less important to viewers as mobile delivery systems and other offerings become a larger piece of the landscape.
The suppliers are working to develop new hardware and software offerings for these new delivery mediums while at the same time trying not to kill the industry itself. “We sell to [broadcasters], and they pay us with the ad revenue they make,” one supplier said. “If we develop technology that disrupts that, the industry could be in trouble.”
The question will be whether the broadcasters can smoothly navigate a potential fundamental shift in the way the industry operates – something their counterparts in the music industry failed to do.
The discussions at NAB now are being dominated by reports of a potential Intelsat sale. Intelsat may be flipped by its current private equity owners to another private equity company â€“ Blackstone Group for an asking price of $6 billion. Is this the beginning of a new era for the FSS sector â€“ being passed from private equity company to private equity company?
Globalstar’s new unlimited air time offer for “loyal” subscribers is seen as a last-ditch effort to retain customers, who are leaving the service in increasing numbers, according to NAB attendees.
The telephone operator’s satellite constellation is degrading at a rapid rate, and the company’s second-generation system will not be in orbit quickly enough to stop a major service gap. Not only are customers beginning to seek alternatives, distributors were not even offering Globalstar to potential subscribers because of the service gaps.
Another potential fear, according to industry officials, is that first responders and others that have stocked Globalstar equipment for disaster relief communications may find that their emergency systems are unavailable when they are needed most.
Globalstar holds a subscriber advantage over Iridium because of cheaper equipment and service plans, but are the Globalstar problems leaving the door wide open for Iridium to claim the crown of dominant satellite telephone provider once and for all?
Satellite industry officials attending NAB seem less concerned about the potential loss of some C-band capacity to wireless players than was expressed by attendees at Satcom Africa in March.
The satellite industry in Africa may have more reason to be concerned since C-band is a dominant method of service throughout the continent, but in Las Vegas, some officials feel the spectrum switch is a foregone conclusion.
Instead of expending time and resources waging a losing battle for the spectrum, they feel the industry should concentrate on the best way to go forward and work with the wireless players following the change.
Satellite industry players seem to have brought a much more aggressive attitude to NAB than in years past.
The opening day around the satellite pavilion saw companies in industry segments such as ground equipment and Mobile Satellite Services use phrases such as “competition killer” when referring to their new products. While this attitude probably has been rampant behind closed doors for several years, this looks to be the first time such feelings are being displayed openly at the show.
Is this the end of the era of friendly competition in the satellite industry?