TSBc to Reinforce Maritime and Offshore Market with Thor 7
[Via Satellite 11-10-2014] Telenor Satellite Broadcasting (TSBc), a major satellite operator in Europe, has seen a steady increase in revenue coming from the maritime market. The company has been providing maritime and offshore VSAT services to Northern Europe for a considerable amount of time from its 1 degree west orbital location. But changing consumer patterns requiring access to broadband at sea is leading to more satellite system installations, according to TSBc CEO and VP Morten Tengs. The growing desire to have connectivity speeds at sea similar to those on land has become a powerful trend, so much so that TSBc now expects this vertical to have a defining impact on its upcoming satellite Thor 7.
“Once Thor 7 is launched, TSBc’s network and data services will undertake a business shift, focusing further on increasing our market share in the maritime and offshore sector. The Thor 7 [High Throughput Satellite] HTS Ka band has been specifically designed for the mobility VSAT market and adds vital growth capacity for our long standing maritime and oil and gas customers who are currently using our Ku-band payloads,” Tengs told Via Satellite.
From 1 degree west, TSBc provides high-powered Ku-band capacity in key regions from Greenland to the Persian Gulf. The company’s top markets are Europe, the Middle East and Africa. To keep up with maritime growth, TSBc has been using third party capacity from Telesat to deliver iDirect services to top maritime and shipping routes across the globe. This capacity helps TSBc extend its service offering beyond its core European market to the Caribbean and larger swaths of the Atlantic.
Tengs said TSBc’s primary focus is to continue playing a major role in and around Europe, rather than expanding out geographically. Partnerships with other operators will continue to be a method of meeting new customer requirements as they arise.
Last year the company selected iDirect’s Velocity product line as the ground infrastructure solution for Thor 7. The platform will enable spot beam handover across all 25 beams in the HTS payload, covering the North, Mediterranean, Baltic and Norwegian seas, as well as the Middle East.
Set to launch during the first quarter of 2015, Thor 7 is also equipped with 11 Ku-band transponders for broadcast services in Central and Eastern Europe. Tengs anticipates seeing future expansion with a growing number of higher quality broadcasts.
“Within the broadcast markets in which we operate, HD is still dominating the agenda with a heightened introduction of services to most TV bouquets, fuelled by improved market outlooks for regionalized content and advertising. In the longer term, the prospect of introduction of Ultra-HD services would add significantly to the demand for satellite capacity,” he said.
While Tengs expressed optimism at the introduction of Ultra-HD, he said it is still not clear how quickly this service will develop. Over-The-Top (OTT) content, he noted, is beginning to put pressure on premium pay TV in some more developed markets, but he does not see it as a major threat at this time.
“OTT is certainly doing well but continues to be, for all intents and purposes, a complimentary service to linear TV, which I suspect will be the case for some years to come. The major broadcasters will continue to focus on providing better and more attractive content in HD and Ultra-HD and since this requires scalability and bandwidth availability, satellite maintains an important role in broadcast distribution,” he said.
Overall TSBc has seen substantial growth in maritime, and now reaches more than 17.5 million TV households throughout Europe. The company has high hopes for Thor 7, both to add capacity in growing markets as well as provide room for entry into new verticals. Tengs said the satellite’s Ka-band HTS payload will support Satellite Newsgathering (SNG) and other land-based services. The company is also evaluating an entrance into the aeronautical and governmental markets, he said. But for now, launching Thor 7 is the number one priority.