Then and Now–Some Parting Words From The Via Satellite Podium
For the past 11 years, I have had the privilege of observing, analyzing and interacting with the commercial communications satellite industry. Throughout this period, I have seen the industry grow from a small club where people regularly recognized each other on the conference circuit, to a sophisticated international business that has established the esoteric concept of satellite communications in the lexicon of everyday conversation.
When I began working at Via Satellite in the early ’90s, the enthusiasm was palpable. For most of us, working with satellites was not just a job. It brought with it a sense of excitement and an emotional attachment not always felt in other professions.
During the ’90s, the satellite industry moved through several rapid growth cycles. First, the boom in the Asia-Pacific economies fueled an increase in demand unheard of in satellite history. New satellite projects were frequently unveiled, and DBS began to unfold as the industry’s greatest success story. International competition in satellite services slowly became the norm, and a string of new global operators changed the satellite landscape. Unusual orbits were adopted for innovative applications, and the mobile satellite boom took center stage for a number of years. Back then, industry activists forewarned a shortage of launch vehicles, and today’s newest rockets are a product of this fear. Financing poured in during much of this time period, and the sky literally was the limit for this growing business.
Today, like other telecom sectors, we are witnessing a more austere environment for financing satellite projects. Not only have investors been burned by huge satellite business failures, some of the industry’s biggest customers themselves are in a period of retrenchment. For many, this somber backdrop is unfamiliar after such a long period of unhampered growth. But despite the more negative atmosphere, one thing remains the same. The rush of exhilaration satellite professionals feel for the technology and the role it plays to better the lives of billions of people is still evident.
Technical ingenuity continues unhampered. New services like DARS are being adopted at a rapid pace. And the Internet, despite the dot.com crash, is growing by leaps and bounds. As video gravitates to the Web, the one-way point-to-multipoint capabilities that satellites are so capable of providing will continue to make them an attractive option for any broadcast network. With strengths such as these, the industry is well-poised to take off again when the recessionary business cycle comes to an end.
We at Via Satellite are undergoing another type of cycle. My role as the editor of these pages is coming to a close, although I will still continue to work as the editor-at- large. Many of you already know our new editor, Nick Mitsis, in his former role as associate editor. Nick’s enthusiasm for the business, solid reporting skills, popular public appearances, and knowledge of all facets of the satellite business make him a top-notch candidate as editor. In addition, I would like to introduce our new Web editor, Kelly Holder, who also serves as Via Satellite’s managing editor. Kelly’s editorial creativity, strong organizational skills, and close ties to the best writers in the business are the reasons she was selected to upgrade and enrich the Web content at viasatellite.com.
I hope you will join me in congratulating Nick and Kelly, as Via Satellite moves into its next phase of editorial excellence.
Cynthia Boeke, Editor