2010 is expected to be much brighter for businesses than 2009, and I’ve touched on some of the expected hot markets in the coming year. The mix of promising business sectors include already-developed areas (hybrid networks, satcom on the move, backhaul, government), emerging businesses (satellite broadband, Earth observation) and some newer niches that look ready to take off (3-D, interactive services). Which of these niches will pay off in 2010 and beyond, which may not, and what areas not mentioned here show promise?
The maritime segment of the satcom market is a bright spot in these sluggish economic times, attracting hardware vendors and satellite service providers like community organizers to an ACORN rally. MSS service providers have dominated the high seas for the last three decades; but improvements in technology have driven down both the size and price of stabilized VSAT terminals, making them more affordable to larger numbers of vessels. Combine the price reduction for VSAT hardware with ocean-blanketing footprints and the resulting sales curve of maritime VSATs has increased its northward tilt. Growing numbers of fleets are adding VSAT to their communication arsenal as the hunger for bandwidth increases.
Although maritime VSAT installations are increasing, Iridium and Inmarsat aren’t standing still, offering always-on, IP-based services which are billed by the megabit instead of the minute. Although the throughput is significantly less than what a VSAT can provide, the price for an MSS terminal is just a fraction of what a VSAT costs. The footprints of MSS terminals are tiny too, making them practical on just about anything larger than a bass boat.
While it may appear to outsiders that MSS and FSS service providers are locked in a class over the maritime market, both types of service offer distinct advantages and the Maritime Industry relies on both types of services heavily. Scan the superstructure and decks of large vessel and you will likely see an assortment of maritime terminals. Although it is tempting to put all your communication eggs in the proverbial basket, in the real world it is important to have multiple communication options while at sea.
The demand for bandwidth on the seas will increase, just like it does on land. New terminals will be developed to support new and creative applications, allowing maritime companies do improve efficiencies and increase profits. We have only scratched the surface in this satellite-dominated market. Look for this market segment to grow for the next several years.
As satellite is embraced as a vital and important technology partner in communication strategies, the industry must ensure that there is stringent adherence to security best practices. Since threats can come from a multitude of places, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. A security policy must be crafted to meet your specific needs, followed by the use of security tools to ensure that your satellite network is safeguarded.
Security tools are just like any other tools. Instead of saws, hammers, and wrenches, there are firewalls, filters, and Triple A systems. The carpenter uses a level to provide perspective, showing at a glance if something is out of kilter; intrusion prevention systems do the same.
Quality tools are expensive and they prove their value every time you use them. If you don’t take care of a tool it won’t perform up to its potential. Leave a saw out in the rain and it will rust; thereby dulling its edge; installing a new piece of near gear and leaving the default password in place isn’t a wise idea either.
To build a house you need multiple tools. Oh, you can try to economize and buy fewer tools, using some for purposes they were never intended. For instance, you can drive a nail with an adjustable wrench but it isn’t as efficient as using a hammer. The same lesson applies to hardware and software which will safeguard your network. It often takes a bag full of tools to do the job properly. Security threats never stop; once you have the tools in place you must use them properly to get the desired results.
Satellites have a high-value role of monitoring climate change, an now the sector can be a leader in the trend toward embracing “green” technologies that help the planet as well. But the alarms raised over climate change are sure to raise instant debate. Climate change has become as volatile as religion and politics in conversation – its best just to not discuss it.
But there also looks to be revenue opportunities in green technologies, and it would be foolish for any industry to dismiss a revenue opportunity in today’s economy. Is there any danger in satellite players jumping wholeheartedly into the green sector?
Bill Gates has a touch as close to Midas as one can get, and with Microsoft signing an agreement with BSkyB for U.K. and Irish customers to watch BSkyB satellite TV via an application on Xbox 360 video game consoles, it looks like BSkyB is on its way to more notoriety and more revenue from an important segment of society – young video gamers.
But based on Micrsoft’s history of making sure the playing field is tilted heavily in its favor, it would be wise for BSky to be wary of the deal. Microsoft is a big name that brings a lot of brand name cache and financial power to any partnership, but should satellite players be cautious of hopping into bed with the software powerhouse?
If you missed it, the fight for world video domination has begun between DTH providers, cable companies, and telcos. Three faceless adversaries have begun an interesting struggle; a battle each intends on winning but unsure of the final battle strategy. In the world of sports (err entertainment), the three technologies are like professional wrestlers engaged in a “battle royal”.
For those of you who fast forwarded through adolescence, a battle royal pits a number of pro wrestlers in the same ring with one goal: be the last man standing – good guys and bad guys all stacked inside a small space vying to be the winner at the end of the evening. One by one, wrestlers are thrown over the top rope and eliminated, leaving an ever-diminishing number of contestants. Sometimes a good guy and bad guy have to cooperate to toss someone out of the ring. There is a great irony in watching mortal enemies work together to throw a common opponent over the top rope, only to begin pummeling each other with folding chairs moments later. Ah, sweet youth!
In much the same manner, telcos, cable companies, and DTH service providers have begun trading punches. Video on demand rocks! We can deliver more channels of HD than you! Is either claim a knock out punch? Hardly. The battle will rage on, with good guys and bad guys teaming up when it is convenient. What they haven’t figured out yet is they actually might make excellent tag team partners. But that is a different story.
Pradman Kaul of Hughes is the Via Satellite’s 2008 Satellite Executive of the Year, a well-deserved honor based on his efforts during the year. While six other nominees did not win the award, this does not diminish their accomplishments in 2008. And many of them could be in contention for 2009 if they can maintain their strong performances. The economic climate heading into 2009 does not look very favorable, so the next Satellite Executive of the Year already faces a daunting task, but there is little doubt that the 2009 field of nominees will be strong. Are there any early frontrunners?
Via Satellite handed out its 20th Satellite Executive of the Year award a year ago, and the competition for the 21st award has never been stronger. The field of seven nominees is a diverse cross-section of executives, all of whom have made lasting contributions to the satellite industry in the past year. Of course, with such a large field of deserving winners, that means six will not take home the prize. That doesn’t diminish what they accomplished in 2008, and their efforts likely put them in early contention for a future Executive of the Year award.
Please take a look at our nominees, which include satellite operators, network operators, component manufacturers and other sectors, and let us know which one you favor. Input from the industry as a whole always plays a role in our decisions, and we would love to hear from our readers.
So, here we are, my first blog of 2009 and a Happy New Year to you all. I have a feeling that the global economic situation could be an ongoing theme throughout the blogs this year. So, they may well not be blogs filled with joy!!!! It seems a lot of stories this year will have the theme of ‘how a market will survive during economically challenging times?’
But, anyway, I digress. This particular blog I am going to talk about the digital signage market, a market we have just taken an in-depth look it, in the Feb. 09 edition of Via Satellite.
It strikes me that this could be a market where a winning strategy could pay huge dividends this year. I know that maybe stating the obvious, but it seems to me, it is a market that offers solutions, which are definitely geared to helping certain companies during difficult and cost-cutting times.
It is a sad fact of life, that when dark times happen economically, everything gets put under the microscope and a lot of companies are looking to slash costs in a fairly brutal way.However, the fact is, companies and organizations still need to get messages across about their brand, their products, their message if you like. Digital signage, if deployed correctly, can be a cost-efficient way of doing this. So, it will be interesting to see whether companies really embrace these solutions or whether they hold back.
For satellite companies, digital signage offers a potentially interesting market opportunity, although the jury is still out how big the potential pie is for satellite players. So, will the digital signage market see a downturn? Will companies scale back their digital signage projects? I am not sure. I think in difficult economic times, certain companies could flourish here. But, having said that, one thing the last few months has taught me is ‘expect the unexpected’. It seems markets throughout the world are increasingly volatile, and looking into the future and predicting a market can be incredibly hazardous. Still, I am starting in an upbeat manner hoping that in these troubled times, that sectors in which satellite companies operate, will be less impacted than others. Now, where did I put that crystal ball????
Finally, feel free to join me a group of stellar presenters/speakers for a webinar on the impact of the credit crunch on digital signage. The webinar ‘Digital Signage: Pros and Cons during a Credit Crunch’ takes place on Tuesday February 17th at 13.00 – 14.00 (Eastern Time). We have some great speakers lined up, and it should be an absolute cracker. Full details are on our web site at www.SatelliteTODAY.com.
Satellite executives, along with the rest of the world, have been keeping a watchful eye on the global economy for more than year, but unlike the rest of the world, the satellite sector continues to speak glowingly about its prospects through what are expected to be some tough upcoming months. Just as this issue went to press, the U.S. government released four reports that would not bolster the confidence of even the most optimistic person that the U.S. economy will recover from its slide quickly. Jobless claims continued to rise, consumer spending fell by the largest amount since the 2001 terrorist attacks, factory orders plummeted and homes sales fell to the lowest level in nearly 18 years. While no one wants to see the satellite sector suffer any adverse affects from the global economic troubles, is it realistic that the satellite communications business can weather this increasingly bad storm as well as everyone continues to predict?