The world’s media organizations remain locked in an intense battle for viewers and subscribers. With streaming providers and over-the-top TV services joining linear cable television companies in a fragmented, competitive, and oversaturated marketplace, the ability to survive and thrive requires massive investments in the development and production of content that will capture and retain the attention of viewers, and ultimately drive stronger advertising and subscription revenues.
In 2022, the top media and technology companies spent $140 billion on content development, a 10 percent increase from the previous year. That figure is expected to rise to $172 billion by 2025. Overall video consumption, which has increased by more than 60% over the past two years, is projected to continue to rise exponentially. Success in an international market of thousands of providers, where acquisition costs can reach $200 per subscriber and churn rates can hit 70%, is dependent on the continuous generation of compelling content.
“What we see is our customers really turning to us for help. They want help on developing, setting up, and managing their distribution network as it becomes increasingly complicated.”Pascale Fromont
VP and General Manager, Media
As if developing content wasn’t expensive and challenging enough, there’s also the task of distributing it all to affiliates and ensuring it reaches TVs and connected devices.
Historically, the largest media organizations owned and managed their own distribution infrastructure. However, with the increased demands to produce even greater volumes of content, media companies must devote the entirety of their attention and budget to original content development, pricing innovations, and bundling. They can no longer burden themselves with managing distribution networks that have only grown in size and complexity with industry consolidation creating even larger media monoliths.
Intelsat assumes management for the entirety of the distribution process, connecting directly to the company’s origination points, shepherding content across its fully redundant hybrid satellite and terrestrial integrated network, ensuring it reaches its destination without delay or degradation of quality. Managed centrally from the company’s network operations center, Intelsat incorporates multiple layers of redundancies at all levels of the distribution chain and leverages automatic switching technology to immediately identify and utilize the optimal channels. Intelsat Media customers are guaranteed the Service Level Agreement that meets their needs and up to 99.999% of service availability.
Media companies that utilize Intelsat’s Managed Media Services proposition become free to focus exclusively on higher business priorities. Staff can focus on core, mission-critical activities such as engaging affiliates, pursuing new licensing agreements, and driving advertising revenue. Additionally, with Intelsat providing managed services across the industry for a broad set of global programmers, customers benefit from economies of scale and synergies that can lead to greater cash generation.
But large media organizations are not the only beneficiaries of Intelsat’s media services offering. Smaller and mid-size content providers with limited distribution capabilities can leverage Intelsat’s network and services to achieve wider dispersion of their content and expand their audience. Global organizations that transmit a handful of channels across multiple continents can also use Intelsat services, eliminating the need to invest in their own global capabilities and accelerating time to market. In all cases, companies realize significant cost savings as financial resources previously directed toward the upkeep of infrastructure and other resources are no longer required.
Today, Intelsat is relied upon by some of the largest and most prestigious media brands in the world that no longer need concern themselves with uplinks, compression technologies, and all things associated with the day-to-day management of a distribution apparatus. A media conglomerate in North America has offloaded all its distribution processes. Intelsat is now transporting content across teleports and transponders to takers across the continent. In Asia, a prolific broadcaster is using Intelsat to deliver a mixture of news, sports, and entertainment to cable and satellite TV providers around the world.
Consumers crave content. Today, there is no shortage of options for accessing it. By leveraging Intelsat’s expertise, reliable service, network breadth and strength, and management capabilities, media organizations can maintain an edge in the race for viewers and advertising dollars in a complex and superheated competitive landscape.
Software is taking over. In all corners of the world, physical hardware systems are being replaced by cloud technologies and agile software defined networks (SDN) with flexible architectures and a greater ability to interoperate with other systems and dynamically respond to changing user requirements.
Cars now contain more lines of software code than a fighter jet, enabling automotive manufacturers to push software updates to vehicles over the air and reduce in-person dealer visits. Service companies of all kinds are selling software-as-a-service delivered via any number of subscription and usage-based pricing models Wireless operators globally have made significant investments in cloud technologies and software-defined networks to expand partner ecosystems and offer a bevy of 5G-enabled products and services to subscribers.
In all corners of the world, hardware is being replaced by software as part of a profound transformation. Software companies have become among the most capitalized and highest valued in the world as a result. Few industries are not engaging in some form of digital transformation. While this includes satellite and space, the industry is catching up to the digital transformation game.
“Space is our domain so we have committed capital for the development of software-defined satellites.”Bruno Fromont
Chief Technology Officer
Few industries are not engaging in some form of digital transformation. In the automotive sector, cars now contain more lines of software code than most fighter jets, and automotive manufacturers can push software updates to vehicles over the air and reduce in-person dealer visits. Wireless operators globally have made significant investments in cloud and SDN to expand partner ecosystems and offer a bevy of 5G-enabled products and services to subscribers.
While this includes satellite and space, the industry has been slower to the digital transformation game than others.
While software companies can innovate and develop new offerings as quickly as a coder can develop them, the satellite industry ecosystem is composed of more traditional, brick-and-mortar companies and partner organizations that – often by necessity – tend to move more slowly and take longer to build things. Satellite companies are still dependent on large and expensive rockets and other forms of infrastructure and equipment that are not necessarily candidates for replacement by software.
However, with increasing speed and momentum, the satellite industry is seeing the opportunity to virtualize and embrace digitization. In many ways, the industry is following in the footsteps of terrestrial telecommunications companies that have been investing in the development of more agile and scalable networks capable of delivering connected services and meeting the unrelenting demands of bandwidth-hungry end users more dynamically and efficiently. Satellite companies are also motivated by the knowledge that a modernized satellite communications network will integrate more seamlessly alongside terrestrial networks, enabling satellite to be viewed as a viable option within hybrid communications offerings.
From gateways and ground infrastructure to the satellites in orbit, to the network management conduits that connect it all, Intelsat people are leading the “next first” innovations that will drive greater network speed, efficiency, and flexibility. Through nontraditional partnerships, such as engagements with cloud technology platform providers, Intelsat is making significant strides in its virtualization efforts to anticipate and meet the needs of its customers and the people who depend on them.
In partnership with the provider of the only fully virtualized, software-defined satellite ground platform, Intelsat is unifying its ground and space operations systems into a singular, next-generation network. The modernized network will enable Intelsat to deliver optimized services with greater speed and on-demand scalability, while empowering customers to, in a matter of minutes, make changes to service levels that previously would have taken weeks or months to implement.
Team Intelsat is also spearheading significant advancements in intelligent terminals that connect users to the next-generation network. Collaborating with a leading antenna manufacturer, the company is developing a smart, multi-orbit, software-powered terminal that sits at the edge of the network and can dynamically respond in an on-demand fashion to the changing bandwidth requirements of the user, in the same way consumer wireless subscribers can self-serve and configure their wireless plans directly from their personal devices. The terminal will tell the network what it needs in terms of bandwidth allocation, and the network will respond without human intervention.
In addition to the ability to connect to satellites across multiple orbits, the advanced capabilities of the terminal will do away with time-consuming manual provisioning and ensure that precious bandwidth is allocated for greatest efficiently and availability. Upgrades and feature enhancement can be delivered to the terminals via software upgrades, negating the costs associated with replacing bespoke hardware.
Ultimately, virtualization will enable Intelsat to bring a range of new and first satellite-powered innovations and applications to market faster while becoming more responsive to the ever-changing needs of partners and end users. For the company, it means more efficient use of the network. End users will benefit from reduced costs and increased responsiveness to bandwidth demands. Software is becoming the way of the world. Led by the people of Intelsat, the satellite industry is firmly on board.
Africa is among the most complex environments for any communications service provider seeking to deliver high-quality and consistently available connectivity to the people who need it. Regional factors and geographical realities contribute to the difficulties of delivering uninterrupted, high-speed communications on par with what is commonplace across most of the rest of the world.
Building, optimizing and managing a network anywhere is a massively costly proposition. In Africa, where revenues per user are lower than in other regions of the world, the commercial case for standing up and investing in an intelligent and dynamic communications network is even more challenging.
All that said, ensuring underserved populations in Africa have access to broadband connectivity is critical. Without access, millions of people risk falling irretrievably behind the rest of the connected world.
“It’s very important for us to provide connectivity to this underserved population because if we don’t, a large portion of the African population will fall behind the modernized world.”Hans Geldenhuys
Director of Sales, Africa
Satellite communications providers (CSPs) have historically rushed to the rescue in the aftermath of a natural or manmade calamity that rendered a local terrestrial network unavailable. Today, Intelsat is making a concerted commitment to enhancing day-to-day network quality and helping African CSPs deliver secure and affordable connectivity across the continent.
Today, advancements in equipment size and mobility, combined with reduced costs for capacity, have made satellite a more attractive option. However, instead of just selling access to megabytes, Intelsat is building satellite-backed, modernized, reliable networks providing all the services required to optimize and maintain the network and ensure it is effectively delivering connectivity for a given region.
Through this innovative managed-services approach, the Intelsat team is making it as easy as possible for African mobile network operators (MNOs) to incorporate disaster-proof satellite communications into an integrated network of networks, as either a primary or redundant communications option. This relieves operators of the burden of managing the nuts and bolts of the network, for which many lack the resources. MNOs can essentially buy an Intelsat “site” complete with antennae, solar panels, and nodes that connect to the satellites in orbit and power the surrounding area with the desired level of communications power, from voice and data to 4G LTE. From there, MNOs can leverage the Intelsat network to deliver basic connectivity to consumer populations while at the same time developing revenue-generating applications for enterprise users.
The people of Intelsat are actively deploying our managed services approach across Africa, working with a wide range of in-country MNOs, governments, and partners. In the best example of this strategy at play, we are working with the largest operators in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to deliver a wide range of applications including trunking, cellular backhaul, and enterprise services. In the DRC, Intelsat is building the sites, powering connectivity, and managing the network as part of a singular, seamless offering.
In other parts of the continent, the Intelsat team is working with oil and gas companies to enhance connectivity for on- and offshore facilities and helping a leading MNO in Burkina Faso build a new network that can serve both consumer and enterprise users in the market.
From the densely populated urban centers to less-developed and more-remote regions and everywhere in between, Intelsat is providing complete support to its African CSP customers and partners, along with the reliability, flexibility, and responsiveness for which our people are known throughout the world. With a model that removes the burden from the operator; introduces modern, next-generation infrastructure; and leverages industry-leading expertise, Intelsat is demonstrating its deep commitment to finally connecting the unconnected across the continent.