The Mediasat has recently and repeatedly focused on the tectonic upheavals in the Ukrainian market, including its slow but steady move to a pay TV model, in turn, the market players are alert to developments by changing their approaches. The Mediasat found out that the company “Ukrkosmos” was modernizing its teleport (one of the first in Ukraine), and was actively entering the telecom market, changing the conservative “state” approach to business and more dynamic and actual. Yuri Balychev, First Deputy General Director at “Ukrkosmos”, was kindly asked to outline the company’s plans in the Ukrainian market.
2016 was very important for our company. Early in this year, we put into service new broadband transmitters (12.75 – 14.5GHz) and an antenna assembly, and we have recently completed the modernization of all the teleport digital equipment. We acquired it directly from the company Harmonic INC. (USA). Today, this is the best in their product range and in the world. There were cheaper offers, but we decided not to save on quality and to choose the best option. At present, we can provide almost everything: MPEG-2, MPEG-4, modulation S and S-2, signal relay in HD standard. It is too soon to speak of Ultra HD, since the market is not ready and lacking an integral technological solution. We expressly searched into that matter at IBC 2016 in Amsterdam. Indeed, such a solution will appear soon, and we are looking forward to set up the first Ukrainian Ultra HD channel, but there is no one yet.
Because of the crisis, the cost-cutting problem is particularly acute, and the TV channels are searching for cheaper signal delivery ways. First, we are talking about individual TV channels, which are not incorporated into the major media holdings, are less secure financially, they can not build their own transmitting complex and ensure own TV channel’s distribution. Thanks to the latest modulation and signal encoding solutions of our new equipment, we are able to provide the mentioned above. The satellite band efficiency does depend on equipment. If it was required 2.5 Mbit before, for example, 2 Mbit will be quite enough now. The technology allows compressing signal to the full, cost-cutting signal delivery, and competing with OTT.
Can the price compete with IP signal delivery?
Yes, it can. At the same time, the quality and reliability of the satellite solution is higher. The advantages of satellite broadcasting are evident. In late November or early December, we will hold a presentation, inviting TV channels’ representatives to become personally sure. We will switch on the same channel in various encodings and standards. Everyone knows that HD TV is expensive, and we can prove that it is not so costly. There are channels broadcasting in MPEG-2, and they would be able to move to HD-broadcasting for the same money. Moreover, many TV channels shoot in HD, but because of an expensive satellite capacities, they have to underrate broadcasting quality.
We have been implementing the teleport concept for a long time. What is the difference between a teleport and just a station? This is a complex of antennas and high-frequency and digital equipment, which can use several satellites simultaneously. We are not tied to any single operator or satellite. We have four transceiving complexes that can operate with four satellites at once. We have experience with ABS, Amos, Hellasat, Azerspace, and others. In addition, we are aware how to arrange TV channel broadcasts in the United States, for example, or how to use Hot Bird for broadcasts over Europe. If there is a need for delivering signal to other satellites, there is no problem.
A very important point is a reliable backup by means of other satellites. We can provide it. A nightmare of a TV channel is to lose a satellite signal. If a signal is gone for half an hour, it is a tragedy, if it is gone for a week, it makes no sense to resume operation. This is the very universal teleport concept that allows providing a 100% backup.
How long does it take to switch to another satellite?
If a signal is gone, it will take us a few minutes to move a TV channel to another satellite. And then it depends on cable operators, how quick they are to reconfigure their equipment. The ideal option is when the backup satellite remains in the same position, and it has free capacities. But it rarely happens, so requiring other solutions, like ours one.
Are there any similar teleports?
There are a lot of such teleports in Europe, but no one like this in Ukraine yet. Many broadcasters have their stations, but these are usually mono stations customized to a certain operator and satellite.