The Role of Satellites in Delivering High-Quality Video

The Role of Satellites in Delivering High-Quality Video

Internet service providers (ISPs) and operators are seeing massive demand for video content from consumers. With video expected to make up 82% of all internet traffic in 2021, combined with the advent of 5G, terrestrial internet services are bracing for the impact of high consumer expectations with thinning profit margins [1].

Several parts of Asia have additional challenges to surmount when it comes to video content delivery: the lack of universal and reliable broadband coverage. In fact, household penetration of fixed broadband in Asia is slightly below 60%, and its growth is slowing, suggesting that it might take a long time before it reaches the ubiquity seen in advanced economies [2]. This calls into doubt the ability of existing broadband services to fulfil the Asian consumer’s appetite for high-quality video.

Live Video
Especially when it comes to live events, real-time delivery of video is of paramount importance. Large scale delivery of content to distributed geographies can be managed quickly and easily via uplink to satellites and multicasting to thousands or even millions of receivers.

The unique advantage of using satellites is the extremely low latency, buffering and dropout rates experienced by the audience [3]—this can be critical in large scale sporting events, for example, where finding out about goals or runs scored by teams is the main focus of viewers. Football matches or games of cricket hinge on narrow periods of frantic activity, and no viewer wants to view a goal scored or a catch taken minutes after it is celebrated on social media.

Efficient, near-real-time delivery of this crucial, literally game-changing content is not always possible with terrestrial networks, especially across parts of Asia where these networks are often unreliable and not set up on robust infrastructure.

A Focus on Quality
Research suggests that average global broadband speed is 9.1 Megabits Per Second (Mbps). Satellite downstream bandwidth, on the other hand, reaches 500 Mbps, making delivery of live 4K content a real possibility, independent of broadband connectivity. The SAT>IP Alliance, an industry body, has created an ecosystem of easy to deploy, flexible solutions supported by over 40 manufacturers and technology companies and satellites covering 95% of the globe and reaching over a billion potential viewers [4]. It forecasts the emergence of demand in delivering true 4K video quality across multiple screens to consumers.
A few months ago, SES pioneered the transmission of 8K content, with 7680x4320 pixels at 50 frames per second to a Samsung 8K flat screen TV with a built-in satellite receiver capable of decoding the signal. According to Thomas Wrede, Vice President of New Technology & Standards at SES Video, “It will be years before large 8K flat screens or video walls become a common sight in our living rooms.” The demonstration, however, anticipates the coming wave of consumer demand and paves the way towards 8K satellite broadcasting standards [5].

Asia’s video consumer is technologically savvy, and hungry for high-quality, low-latency content. Terrestrial networks are unlikely to meet the exponential increase in demand from this audience, and satellites can bridge this gap in a cost-effective, efficient and scalable manner. With a satellite dish and a set-top box (STB), Asia’s remotest corners can receive digital broadcasts in real time and enjoy perfect audio and video quality [6].

For more information on how SES’s fleet of satellites is capable of delivering high-quality video content to any home in the world, get in touch with us today.

[1] Enhancing Experiences, Accelerating Growth

[2] Is Recent Growth in Asia’s Fixed Broadband Sector Set to Slow?

[3] Satellite's Role in Delivering UHD Content

[4] SAT>IP on Delivering the Future of Satellite TV

[5] Samsung, Spin Digital and SES Showcase 8K Content Via Satellite

[6] Delivering Over-the-top Content to Everyone Through Satellite