[Satellite News 04-30-12] SES
has unveiled a new broadcast technology that it hopes will revolutionize how satellite TV signals are received within the home. SES designed SAT-IP as a new IP-based satellite reception technology that demodulates and converts satellite signals to IP.
SES Vice President of Reception Systems Thomas Wrede said the introduction of SAT-IP could represent a quantum leap for the industry and believes the service will find success with pay-TV operators wanting to broaden their reach in the home.
“[SAT-IP] will make available linear satellite TV in its high picture quality to devices that do not have an integrated tuner,” Wrede told Satellite News. “Furthermore, SAT-IP devices allow satellite signals to be transported over any wired or wireless IP link. SAT-IP will benefit operators and equipment manufacturers. Operators can introduce neat solutions for in-home multi-screen viewing and manufacturers can bring out a range of respective products. First products to reach soon the market will be SAT-IP multi-switches (servers) and set top boxes that accept satellite content also via an Ethernet interface.”
In a SAT-IP environment, IP-enabled devices such as tablets, PCs, laptops, smartphones, Connected TVs, game consoles and media players will be able to receive satellite programming. This means that consumers will be able to enjoy the benefits of watching TV programs on different devices and screens. SES hopes SAT-IP will become an official standard that is open to all manufacturers and allows them to develop a neutral environment of multiple devices.
Current prototypes already allow for the reception of up to eight programs on eight different screen devices at home. Wrede, who helped unveil the new technology during one of SES’s Industry Day events, admits the project has been a challenging one for the operator as it looks to bring new solutions to the industry.
“SES has been coordinating the SAT-IP project and has been bringing operators and industry together,” he said. “The result is the SAT-IP communications protocol that will become a European standard. The major challenge is to agree with operators and industry on a suitable DRM solution for transporting securely encrypted content. The project so far runs for about a year now.”
The broadcasting landscape has irrevocably changed in the years since Apple introduced the iPad and smartphones became more sophisticated. Wrede admits the satellite industry is being forced to evolve alongside the consumer.
“Consumers will continue to watch linear television in HD and ‘Beyond HD’ formats on large screens and only satellite has got the bandwidth to deliver the required plethora of programs,” said Wrede. “With SAT-IP, the satellite industry now has got an excellent technology to make linear satellite content available also on smartphones and tablet devices. In so far, it is further strengthening the position of linear TV as a main distribution method, but complementing it with new technologies.”
The first SAT-IP based products are likely to be available later this year after being demonstrated for the Apple iPad. Wrede believes the satellite industry will benefit from SES’s future-oriented initiatives. “Satellite will benefit from the evolution of Ethernet based in-home networking technologies – higher speed for wireless, powerline, etc. The big benefit will be that linear satellite signals can be interfaced easily into IP in-home networking topologies. All operators will benefit. SAT-IP will provide operators with the tool kit to develop and bring to market user-friendly solutions for a multi-screen environment.”
Now that SES has announced details of its SAT-IP initiative, the challenge will be to make sure the initiative becomes a success. Wrede said the next steps for the new platform would involve the European standardization of SAT-IP and the market launch of SAT-IP compliant hard- and software. “In parallel, SES will make available to industry the necessary tools to implement compliance testing and devices certification,” he said.