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Editor’s Note: 20 Years And Counting

By | January 2, 2006

      "…Via Satellite can’t be merely good, it will have to be better, striving to be the best…" Those were the words of then Editor and Publisher Irl Marshall, in 1986, when he launched Via Satellite magazine to become the definitive trade journal of the then fledgling satellite broadcasting industry.

      In those days, the business developments of Comsat General and C-band reigned supreme. Today’s business developments resonate from providing advanced turnkey services and awaiting the full outcome of the ongoing developments surrounding the latest mergers, IPOs and private equity investments that are reshaping some of the juggernaut companies within our industry. Throughout these developments, Via Satellite has continued to meet our readers’ information needs.

      It was truly within the past two decades that we observed some of the greatest changes in satellite technology, and with them, fundamental changes in the global satellite industry business. Programming delivered via satellite advanced with the introduction of high-powered direct broadcast satellite (DBS) services, which ushered in new digital compression technology — that is still evolving today — allowing consumers to receive hundreds of channels of digital-quality programming on a dish that is barely noticeable compared to its predecessor.

      The past 20 years also captured the imagination of communications industry executives with the launch of satellite constellations numbering in the double digits hoping to provide mobile communications like no other. Today, "truly mobile" is evolving into video, data as well as voice connecting users anytime, anywhere, all in the palm of their hand made possible by satellite. Innovation continued with commercial remote sensing satellites entering the scene, capable of taking pictures from space clear enough to see objects on the ground less than 1 meter (39 inches) across.

      And one of the most notable users made satellite synonymous with victory. Data, voice and video streamed via satellite entered the combat zone like it never had before, becoming an integral part of today’s military operations.

      These are just a few highlights. Of course there are many more milestones than this column’s space can’t accommodate. But the satellite industry has indeed come a long way since AT&T’s Telstar satellite first linked continents and proved the commercial validity of space-based ventures.

      So what will hallmark the next 20 years of satellite industry development? We are now embarking on a new transformational era. One that is graying the boundaries of terrestrial, wireless and satellite transmissions. As this technological convergence continues and satellite transmission further fuses with its terrestrial and wireless counterparts, new applications and services will usher in markets and business plans not yet realized.

      Likewise, executives new to the satellite industry are leading some of the largest satellite and equipment companies. Their fresh outlook and keen understanding of the users’ needs will further define the industry’s future.

      But however it shakes out, one thing will remain certain: This is only the beginning of greater things to come.

      We at Via Satellite are also evolving, both in look and in content. We will continue to strive to maintain Mr. Marshall’s original vision of being the best publication covering satellite industry business developments, but also become the definitive source for emerging services and applications that transcend technological barriers. In future issues, we will explore how today’s communication networks are transforming services, business plans and entire market segments. We will also chronicle the emerging opportunities, cementing Via Satellite as your "must read" monthly.

      We hope you enjoy our new look; we thank you for your continued support and look forward to serving your information needs through the years to come.

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