Satellite Role Examined At GTM
[Satellite News – 6-5-08] The satellite industry is well-placed to help industry meet the challenges of connecting people around the globe, Hamadoun Touré, secretary general of International Telecommunications Union (ITU), said June 3 at Intelsat’s Global Telecommunications Meeting (GTM) in Washington.
“No other technology can quickly achieve large scale coverage to dispersed populations,” Touré said in his keynote address. “It is my view that the often the satellite industry has been not present in all the areas it could have been.”
The ITU is playing a key role in promoting global connectivity, and satellite communications needs to play “a bigger role” if this is going to become a commercial reality. “In October 2007, we had the ConnectAfrica summit. It was about mobilizing growth for sustainable investment,” Touré said. “We intend to establish ourselves in other continents like Latin America and Asia. We want to focus on one region at time. We want broadband connectivity, not just connectivity. The private sector is ready. Government will play its role in regulatory environments. As the secretary, I want companies to join our Connect the World series. Technology such as broadband wireless and fiber optics have done a great job to bring more people into the fold but I think satellite communications must play a bigger role in connecting the world.”
The ITU has set some ambitious targets in terms of connecting schools and hospitals, Touré said in his keynote address. “The ITU’s mandate is to connect the world. We need to have connectivity in every school and every hospital by 2015. We want to do this by 2012,” he said. “We want to make that connection affordable so this basic human right is available to everyone. Our challenge is not only to bring communications anywhere but we want to bring full broadband everywhere.”
During the Modern Telecoms Carriers panel, executives discussed the challenges the face in order to use the right infrastructure to maximize efficiency and potential revenue streams, and the use of different infrastructures seems to be key going forward.
Kwon Yeong Mo, assistant vice president, international and satellite telecommunications department, Korea Telecom (KT), said that as the operator was seeing an erosion in fixed telephony revenues, it was placing a lot of technology bets for the future. “We are targeting on three areas,” he said. “Firstly, we are looking at wireless broadband services. Secondly, we are looking at IPTV. However, there are still regulatory issues here, but we hope to launch commercial IPTV services later this year. Thirdly, we have what we call our Service Over IP strategy. We are increasing our efforts in next generational infrastructures.”
Kwon admits it is a tough market to get things right on a technology basis. He added, “Customers are very sophisticated. 80 percent of households are connected via DSL. We have SkyLife which is trying combine satellite (DTH) with IP. Korea is very much a testbed for services. IPTV is something that has already been launched, but, it is not launched yet in Korea. We want to develop new types of services.”
Combining technologies also will be key in Africa, said Laurent Ntumba, CTO, MicroCom, an ISP based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. MicroCom is combining satellite and WiMax to bring modern communications services to the population. “We use VSAT and Internet technology to connect people. Places in Africa like the Democratic Republic of Congo, when you want to connect people, there can be many problems,” he said. “ There are infrastructure issues. When we examined the issue of how to connect the people, we chose to use WiMax and satellite connectivity. For example, there are more than 85 VSATs connected in the country. In places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, we have a chance for technology to move very fast. In our country, people just need basic telephony and Internet. With WiMAX technology, we can provide this to people.”
Ntumba also believes the ITU can help countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo in terms of regulation. “Our telecoms regulator started only four years ago,” he said. “Technology is moving fast and creating problems for the regulator. We need the help of the ITU to help the government build a powerful regulator.”
For a global carrier such as Verizon, the issues are more about predicting the future in terms of technology, and making sure its multinational customers are satisfied. Bobbi Philips, director, product strategy, Verizon, said in terms of technology bets the operator had made, “We want to flexible for consumers and multi-national customers. We have our IP Multimedia Subsystem infrastructure such as satellite to deploy different capabilities. We are moving to an LTE (long-term evolution) infrastructure. They are really the two big bets we have made,” she said.
Philips also touched upon the regulatory issues, and in particular, how this could impact IP strategies., “The biggest challenge our regulators have had is how to deal with IP,” she said. “This whole concept of IP is very different for them. As providers, we don’t want them to regulate IP. It is a challenge for the regulators to meet the needs for the consumer.”