Satellite and digitalisation

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With the world deadline for the digitalisation of all TV broadcasts set for 2015, satellite is set to play an important role in ensuring that the maximum number of homes can actually watch digital TV once the deadline for the switchover has passed.

The challenge on the African continent is arguably more acute than in the rest of the world, with only about 82 million homes of an estimated 234 million households in sub-Saharan Africa having a TV set – and even those 82 million might not all be digitally enabled.

“Satellite technology has the potential to improve technological sophistication on the continent. We have seen more and more African countries complementing land networks with satellite connectivity to reach areas with poor infrastructure to rapidly comply with the digitalisation deadline at a fraction of the cost for them to roll out the terrestrial infrastructure required to cover their entire country,’ noted Scott Sprague, SES’ senior vice president of Global Sales at AfricaCast in Cape Town.

SES has outlined its launch initiative aimed at putting 13 satellites into orbit over a four year span. SES will increase its global fleet capacity by 23% in comparison to year-end 2010. The launch of 13 satellites represents an investment of more than US$4 bn.

Approximately 85% of the new satellite capacity that SES is launching through 2014 will be dedicated to fast-growing economies in Africa, Latin America and Asia-Pacific, enabling customers and users alike to deploy market relevant services and networks.

“SES is investing in new capacity at a pace the industry has never seen before. This is to meet the ongoing high demand for quality content and connectivity around the world. These satellites will deliver everything from DTH services, including HDTV and 3DTV, to broadband, maritime and government services across the emerging markets that represent exciting growth.

“Africa in particular has been identified by many global investors as representing one of the biggest growth opportunities in the world, having a young population with increasing discretionary income levels. Coupled to this, digitilisation is seen as a catalyst for growth in local economies, fostering innovation and human talent in private and public organisations.

“Digitalisation has the potential to create new distribution networks and expand the potential for wireless innovation and services, while the digital divide in spectrum usage will allow more channels to be carried, leading to greater convergence of services,’ said Sprague.

SES has consolidated its various divisions to form one global operator with one growing, global fleet to better serve its customers. “Every SES satellite is designed, built and launched with the needs of our customers in mind every step of the way,’ said Sprague.

SES delivers nearly 6000 TV and radio channels globally and operates the leading HD platform, distributing almost 1200 HD channels. “SES reaches more than 245 million cable, DTH and IPTV homes around the world and carries 43 DTH platforms over a growing fleet of 49 satellites,’ concluded Sprague.

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