Like its fixed satellite services counterparts, SES some very interesting growth strategies in play. The operator of the second largest communications satellite fleet has an IPTV offering in the United States with IP Prime, and subsidiary SES Astra has teamed with Eutelsat
to serve the mobile services market in Europe under the Solaris Mobile
SES CEO Romain Bausch talks to Satellite Today
about these opportunities as well as the general climate for operators.
Satellite Today: Do you see strong growth for SES?Bausch
: It depends on how you define strong growth. We have guided investors to 6 percent plus over the next two years. We believe this is realistic. However, in the current economic climate, there are exchange rate calculations to be taken into account.
Satellite Today: Has the growth in HD being slower than you anticipated?Bausch
: We predicted 18 months ago that there would be more 100 HD channels by the end of 2010. We are currently at 53 channels, so we are well on track to reach and exceed 100 channels in 2010. What is certainly better than expected is the penetration of HD-ready TVs. Some of our customers such as FTA broadcasters are now using larger amounts of bandwidth because these large flat screens require better picture quality. The key factor for us will be the launch of HD in the German market, where so far, the public broadcasters have delayed the launch of HD channels. Currently, you only have four HD channels in this market, two from Premiere, Arte and Anixe. HD in Germany is still very early days, and I am hopeful by 2010 you will a much larger range of HD channels in the German market.
Satellite Today: Will we see an acceleration in the launch of HD channels?Bausch
: If you look at BSkyB
, they are planning to have 30 HD channels by the end of the year, so there will be a significant ramp-up here. You have others such as ITV also going HD. You will see sudden increases in different markets. The United Kingdom could be first, followed by the French market and then hopefully the German market in the 2010 timeframe. I would not be surprised if HD in Germany will happen at the same time the analog to digital conversion is in full swing. There could be 30 to 40 channels of Germany in HD in Germany by 2010. It is clear that once one of the public broadcasters in Germany decides to go HD, this will give momentum to private broadcasters to also go HD. The Swiss and Austrian public broadcasters have already gone HD. Depending on the role News Corp
. will play within Premiere, you could also see a more aggressive HD strategy there.