Satellite Tech Drives Media Evolution

The sky isn’t just the limit; it is where much of today’s media and entertainment content is shared with the world thanks to commercial satellites. Few people outside the industry realize the importance of satellites in bringing the world to the living room.

“Satellite technology continues to be a strong driver in the evolution of media, entertainment and content delivery overall,” said Executive Vice President of Conventions and Business Operations Chris Brown.

Today’s Satellite Industry Forum features a one-day conference, presented in partnership with the Satellite Industry Association, that will focus on the role that the satellite industry plays in broadcasting and delivering high-quality video content from virtually anywhere to anywhere on the planet — including on the land, sea or even in the air.

In the early days of the Cold War, there was “race to space,” and with it came warnings from the c ampy science fiction movies of the era to “watch the skies.” Fortunately there were no incoming missiles or invasions by green men, but in 1962 the first communication satellite — dubbed Telstar 1 — was launched.

Today households around the world might not watch the skies much, yet what is now up in orbit allows for endless opportunities for content delivery.

“For more than five decades, satellites have had a long and indelible impact on the world of broadcasting,” said Tom Stroup, president of the Satellite Industry Association. “Telstar 1 was launched in 1962, and it forever changed the way people could receive images and content from around the world.”

Today, commercial satellites are used to deliver services to every corner of the United States and to every continent around the globe. Commercial satellites provide satellite Ultra HD TV services along with satellite radio, satellite broadband, plus in-flight connectivity for airline passengers. While satellite communications is in its fifth decade, this is really just the beginning of big things to come.

“With new technologies such as high-throughput satellites and new low Earth orbit constellations being developed and conceived, the ability to deliver increased amounts of even higher-definition content will only continue to increase,” added Stroup.

Today satellites deliver hundreds of channels of media and broadcasting content everywhere, and continue to connect remote regions.

“Satellites have revolutionized the way global news is reported virtually from anywhere including the moon, live and as it happens,” said Stroup.

“Satellites also broadcast sporting events to all corners of the globe, helping grow the World Cup and Formula One Grand Prix Racing into truly global spectacles,” Stroup said. “Communications satellites have also been transmitting coverage of the Olympic Games since 1964. Every Olympiad since has relied on communications satellites to broadcast ever-increasing coverage of the Games to an audience that now totals billions of viewers around the world.”

Currently, commercial satellite operators control almost 40 percent of all operational satellites in orbit and with new lower-cost multi-satellite constellations on the drawing board, that percentage will likely only continue to grow. SIA members already collectively operate the largest fleet of spacecraft in the world.

Mark D. Dankberg, co-founder of ViaSat Inc., will deliver the forum’s keynote “The Data Revolution in Satellite Communications.” Earlier this year ViaSat announced plans to develop the first global broadband communications platform designed to deliver affordable, high-speed Internet connectivity and video streaming.

The session “Satellite Ultra HD TV Anywhere — Promises and Challenges” will examine the role the satellite industry plays in the development and broadcast of Ultra-HD/4K services. This panel will highlight that, as UHD prices continue to fall and with the satellite companies testing content delivery, challenges will have to be overcome. This will include how to ensure that Satellite 4K does not share the same fate as Satellite 3D. The session “Satellite Broadband — High Speed Data From the Skys” will address numerous myths and misconceptions that surround satellite broadband, which is popular in the United States and much of the developed world. This panel will highlight the reasons that satellite broadband continues to grow in popularity while more and more companies continue to enter the marketplace with plans for additional satellite constellations.

A panel will address the issues of content consumption by those utilizing commercial aircraft in the session “The Satellite In-Flight Connectivity – Feeding the Thirst for More and More Content.” Everyday consumers on the ground are craving more connectivity and content with their laptops, tablets and smartphones.

The next frontier for the satellite industry could be reaching the potentially massive audiences on aircraft. As more people take to the skies, these travelers are demanding the same types of services for entertainment and productivity that they experience on the ground. Aviation limits how it can be delivered, and satellites could provide airlines with improved connectivity and greater data options. This panel will address the issues involved and highlight the latest innovations and plans for delivering content.