Intelsat Is Ready for Changing Market Demands

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Most of Intelsat’s assets are located 22,000 miles above the Las Vegas Convention Center in the form of satellites and transponders, but the company is helping customers stay grounded with transmission services that also include more than 28,000 miles of fiber and eight teleports.

For Ron Rosenthal, Intelsat regional VP, broadcast solutions, North America, the mix of firepower allows him to focus on finding the right mix of services to meet the backhaul needs of broadcast and cable networks. Increasingly, he says, MPEG-4 services are part of those discussions, and he’s looking for more input from clients on the role they want the next-generation compression format to play in their operations.

“Right now, we’re soliciting input to find out the concerns of using MPEG-4 for both backhauls and distribution,” says Rosenthal. “The demand is there, but there are still some technical considerations.”

Those include concatenation of artifacts that could damage the quality of the signal being delivered. For example, some clients believe that using MPEG-4 for both backhaul and distribution to viewers will lead to a less-than-stellar viewing experience. Other clients, however, believe that those concerns are overblown, because the industry had similar concerns during the move from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4.

“Our goal,” Rosenthal says, “is to make sure we’re in line with what the sports leagues and cable and broadcasting programmers want in terms of using technology like MPEG-4 to create incremental revenue streams.”

The emphasis on digital technologies like MPEG-4, however, doesn’t mean analog services are passé. “We need to make sure we still offer analog capacity to certain areas,” he says. “Analog is not going away.”

Redundancy is also a constant concern, especially for live sports and news events. “You don’t get a second shot for a live event, so we need to make sure we have redundant ground loops, codecs, power supplies, and more,” says Rosenthal. That also includes VoIP communications and data services.