Satellite industry experts pretty much agree that satellite-delivered TV and video, including direct-to-home services, direct broadcast services and the distribution of digital and high-definition TV are the star performers in the application category. Beyond that, opinions differ widely when it comes to what business areas are hot today and which ones will heat up in the future.
Constructing a satellite is expensive and involves more than simply selecting a vendor, obtaining a license and hammering out all the launch-related details. The business model must be tailored to meet a measurable demand, and the math surrounding revenue flows should be matched to the finite lifespan of the satellite in question. In the global satellite marketplace, the service that has been able to best maneuver this path has been satellite-delivered TV. According to Christopher Baugh, president of Cambridge, Mass.-based NSR, a telecommunications market research and consulting group, direct-to-home (DTH) service is growing quickly in many parts of the world, and high-definition TV (HDTV) is coming on strong as well in “tier 2” TV markets such as Russia, Poland and Turkey. “In the battle for eyeballs, content generators and service providers are quickly taking on HDTV as prime market differentiators to keep as well as gain new customers. These emerging markets should help drive growth for HD content as pay-TV viewing becomes more prevalent over time,” says Baugh, who adds that all types of TV including free-to-air, DTH, and bouquets in Africa are poised for strong growth as well. “NSR is seeing more TV content being brought to Africa like GTV and View Africa. Others are following and the growth will just get stronger in the coming years. Efforts in South Africa to bring new pay-TV services to the country also be sure to generate new capacity demand as well for satellite operators,” he says. Andrea Maleter, technical director at Maryland-based Futron Corporation, believes that overall, a fixed satellite services (FSS)-based strategy also has proven its worth. “Good old FSS is turning out some very hot applications thanks to the continued strength of the video and military markets and the growing demand for mobile backhaul,” says Maleter, who also views the distribution of HDTV programming for cable and other terrestrial providers as a hot category. Besides HDTV mainly in North America both for DTH and cable, Tim Farrar, president of California-based Telecom, Media and Finance Associates Inc., designates Ka-band consumer broadband in North America and maritime broadband as hot performers.