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Satellites enter zettabyte era

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16 March 2015

IP traffic is set to continue to increase with the emergence of new video applications and services and the emergence of ultra-high quality video. These trends will all drive user demand for more data anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

Video delivery requires several Zetta bytes of data per year to reach users over the globe. To ensure an affordable, quality user experience and not one of frustration, experts in Europe warn that the EU needs to adopt a policy approach that is holistic and that pulls on the strengths of each transport and access technology.

"Users are already used to being able to watch video in high-definition, whether it's on TV or online. With today's Internet resources 45% of European viewers are already left out of the HD experience. Without hybrid solutions that integrate satellite and terrestrial solutions, that number will rise to 80% as ultra high-definition content becomes available. The policy goal must be to transcend stand-alone networks and delivery infrastructures to create user-driven hybrid networks that can provide high speed, reliable and affordable services everywhere and at any time, on fixed and mobile devices. This is the way to protect users froma new digital divide." - Michel de Rosen, CEO of Eutelsat and Chairman of ESOA.

Speaking today at a policy debate organised by the European Satellite Operators Association (ESOA) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU):Innovation, Evolution and Convergence: Ensuring access to "next generation video" anytime, anywhere and on any device, DG Connect Deputy Director General Roberto Viola said "Ultra High definition Video is clearly a key driver of future user demand. Satellite and terrestrial broadcasting are the most efficient means of delivering it to users over a wide area. I hope that in Europe we will soon see the emergence of converged approaches that integrate satellite and terrestrial technologies that allow the provision of high speed Internet applications and high definition video services."

Opening the event at the European Parliament, ESOA Secretary General, Aarti Holla, noted that the BBC iPlayer is seven years old and although very popular, iPlayer consumption still only represents less than 3% of all BBC content viewing: "The rise of on-demand video consumption already dominates terrestrial broadband networks. Satellite can facilitate the advanced viewing experience, whether live high quality or on-demand, by combining regular satellite broadcast and intelligent satellite caching. The new European Commission must take a bottom-up approach rather than prescribe specific technology solutions or spectrum requirements. This is key to realizing the 5G eco-system."

"With popular enticement for new programmes, series and major events still growing combined with enhanced viewing quality in the pipeline, TV is here to stay and is still fostering innovation in many different ways. From a policy perspective this translates into a simple message: make sure that free-to-air TV reception remains available for all Europeans. Digital Terrestrial Television ensures dissemination of public service programmes to all Europeans at near zero-cost for the viewer, and it hinges upon sufficient UHF radio spectrum. We cannot see our needs for UHF spectrum significantly decrease, even in the long term, and this is all the more clear with the development of ultra-high definition viewing standards which will require an cost effective production chain and for distribution appropriate spectrum capacity."- Ingrid Deltenre, Director General, EBU.

"European's citizens value choice, as much as they value quality, with their video content. Neither broadband nor broadcast on its own can deliver both choice and quality on its own. This is why hybrid solutions – that can use broadcast for mass-market, appointment-to-view, television events, and which can draw on broadband networks for the delivery of more niche content – is the more viable way forward." - Paul Lee, Partner and Head of Research, Deloitte LLP.

"The challenge for telcos is to ensure a high quality experience for all of the standard Internet applications our customers expect while managing the explosive growth of online video." - Freenasp Modbejina, VP Group Strategy and Business Development, TeliaSonera

Industry forecasts that over 500 million Ultra HD screens will be sold in Europe by 2025, that at least 55% of European consumers will own an Ultra HD TV; that over 1000 Ultra HD channels will be available and more than 400 million Ultra HD set-top boxes installed.

Analysts predict that on-demand HD-quality video throughout Europe requires 35 times more gigabytes of video per month than currently consumed in each household. On-demand Ultra HD will need 100 times than is currently consumed, the cost of which can be optimally met through hybrid solutions.

Hybrid solutions using the latest satellite technology and terrestrial solutions are best suited to provide the backbone of an ubiquitous, flexible, and future-proof digital space. Satellite networks are capable of providing an advanced TV experience on any screen, live and on-demand, accelerating the delivery of triple-play services and delivering innovative video and public services to any home device anywhere.

Experts agreed that this discussion was an inherent part of the 5G debate and that EU R&D support is required under Horizon 2020 to develop standards for advanced compression systems and a true Ultra HDTV signal chain from the camera to the viewer with integrated network management and digital rights management.

The European Commission can also play a major role by fostering a standardized full Ultra HDTV ecosystem, which will bridge the gap between advanced media technologies and the production of European Ultra HD content. Ultra HD content is currently generated in the US as part of drama, and in some sports productions and in Japan where broadcasters already drive full Ultra HD TV.

About ESOA:
ESOA is a Brussels-based trade association whose membership brings together all European, Middle-East and African satellite operators and supporting members including service providers, manufacturers and launch service providers. Set up in 2002, the association's mission is to provide a unified voice and a platform for collaboration for satellite operators to ensure the continued success of the sector and to broaden the opportunities for policy makers to leverage satellite services to fulfil their objectives.

For more information, please contact [email protected]

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