New Teleport Forthcoming for Cobbett Hill Earth Station
[Via Satellite 09-04-2015] Cobbett Hill Earth Station, one of the fastest growing independently owned teleports, is actively considering expanding to become a global operator by the end of next year. The company, based in the United Kingdom, is evaluating possible locations to establish a new teleport in another country.
Established in 2005, Cobbett Hill Earth Station’s primary market is Africa. The company is active largely from Africa out across the Indian Ocean to as far as the west coast of the United States. A few years ago, Cobbett Hill Earth Station acquired International Ocean Services (ION), a project Paul O’Brien, founder and managing director of Cobbett Hill Earth Station, described as a sizeable undertaking for a company that has intentionally kept itself small. Assimilating ION brought the company closer to its maritime customers, but required a protracted assimilation process. Now complete, the company’s next major project is to go global.
“We’ve been looking continually for the past year for a place toward Asia where we can deposit another teleport and run a global service, which is the one thing we need to do as teleport going forward,” O’Brien told Via Satellite. “If we are going to be a global provider we need to offer a global service. We’ve done that through partner teleports up until now, but we are thinking we need to have our own site.”
He added that the U.S. is another possible location. O’Brien said Cobbett Hill Earth Station has deliberately maintained a small size in order to stay “responsive and free thinking.” This has enabled the company to do things such as set up new data services on a new satellite within 24 hours notice. But several factors — among them the acceleration of the maritime industry — are pushing the company to become bigger.
“The market is such now that to take that next step we have to grow a little bit larger to be more cost effective, competitive, and aggressive in the marketplace so that we win more of the deals that are out there,” he said.
“We face some challenges coming soon in terms of satellite operators offering global managed services,” added Gavin Rose, sales director at Cobbett Hill Earth Station. “For us to be able to compete in that marketplace and offer what we do now in terms of a bespoke, independent teleport-type service, we need more coverage, more access to satellites, etc. That is part of our thinking.”
Another incentive to globalize is the breadth of new markets that present opportunities to the company. Cobbett Hill Earth Station traditionally focused on VSAT and data services, but O’Brien said broadcast and maritime are showing greater profitability. Cobbett Hill Earth Station has long been active in Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), at one point having as many as 60 channels. Rose said that this number declined after a major customer, Jump TV, shifted away from IPTV many years ago, and is now closer to 30 channels, but still provides considerable promise. Aeronautical connectivity is another opportunity. O’Brien said Cobbett Hill Earth Station finds this market of interest, but has not determined how the company will approach it. In the meantime, Cobbett Hill Earth Station continues to upgrade its existing infrastructure to enable new services.
“We are investing in higher throughput modems and intelligent [Block Upconverters] BUCs, in addition to teleport management software upgrades to add ever more flexibility and management control. We already run high performance backhaul, independent fiber circuits, and include connectivity to BT Tower for our broadcast and IPTV services … we are always looking at how RF over fiber can help reduce some of our infrastructure costs and improve performance and, of course, keeping up to date with the latest that iDirect and its many competitors have to offer,” said O’Brien.
Cobbett Hill Earth Station’s iDirect services are the most popular among its customers. Last year the teleport upgraded ION’s network to the iDirect Evolution 3.2 platform. O’Brien said the company has built its business around this hub for the past seven to eight years. As the Cobbett Hill Earth Station assesses these new markets, both O’Brien and Rose anticipate that a forthcoming teleport will catalyze new business opportunities.