|Asia-Pacific I 2002
|“Giving Asian Businesses Worldwide Access”
|Vice President & Managing Director
|Asia Pacific New Skies Satellites
Broadband use is expected to intensify in Asia, largely fueled by Internet user demand. Satellite use will increase in parallel, especially for residential broadband, point-to-multipoint multicasting and multimedia rich content since DSL and cable systems are out of reach for many consumers. Satellites, which bypass congested land-based backbones, are ideal for multicasting streaming applications, such as the simultaneous distribution of films to many viewers. Business use of video conferencing services and distance learning, both heavily bandwidth intensive, should continue to expand.
Several trends in the marketplace indicate the return of favorable times. These include a recovering global economy and an emerging positive sentiment in the telecoms sector, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Pundits have indicated that 2002 will be a year of expansion for broadband in Asia. Several factors account for the optimism. The number of Internet users in Asia is expected to exceed 150 million people by 2003, compared with 76 million in 2000. In August 2000, Korea surpassed the United States as the leading user of broadband in the world, even though Korea has less than one-fifth of the U.S. population. Analysts estimate that there will be close to a million broadband subscribers in China by 2005. Frost & Sullivan predicts that the Asian corporate satellite broadband market will reach US$471 million by 2004, and the consumer market is expected to reach US$300 million by the same period. These projections are good news for the satellite sector, which is fast becoming an integral part of the telecoms industry. Two-way, broadband multimedia satellite technology will play a key role in supporting the burgeoning broadband Internet market in Asia Pacific. In addition, the development of broadband applications that harness satellites’ point-to-multipoint multicasting capability and the improvements in Ka-band communication technology will play significant roles in the industry. Connect via satellite The Residential broadband satellite market is poised for steady growth in the near future. Northern Sky predicts that opportunities abound for this sector as competitive access technology such as Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL) and cable modem coverage remain out of reach for would-be broadband Internet subscribers. According to the company, residential broadband satellite access revenues could be worth US$5.2 billion in five years’ time. However, there is a need to improve the technology and the cost to the customer. With the Internet becoming a way of conducting business, getting broadband connectivity to the World Wide Web is now a business imperative, rather than an option, for companies in Asia. Against this backdrop, broadband satellite networks are especially attractive to markets where terrestrial-based infrastructure is inadequate, non-existent or geographically dispersed. Many enterprises are leveraging the ubiquity, scalability and unique point-to-multipoint multicasting capabilities of satellite technology to bridge geographic locations. For instance, with the proliferation of Internet Protocol (IP)- based networking, companies are looking to harness satellite technology as a wide area network (WAN) platform. In addition, satellite is well suited to push high-bandwidth data to many remote locations simultaneously through IP multicasting, making it an ideal vehicle for distributing a company’s corporate training videos, live CEO briefings or even distance learning materials. Content distribution: need a push? According to DTT Consulting, the content distribution market is vibrant and growing. DTT’s recent report indicated that the equivalent of almost 500 36-MHz transponders were being used for satellite Internet services as of April 2001, representing a 56 percent increase over the figures for January 2000. In addition, Internet service provider (ISP) backbone links accounted for 80 percent of the total transponder capacity used by Internet traffic. It is also reported that the proportion of ISPs worldwide using satellite links have grown in the last year. One of the most suitable ways of delivering bandwidth intensive content is through satellite IP multicasting. The benefit is that a satellite can support a ‘one-hop’ link between the server and the last-mile, where IP-based traffic is routed to the end user. This means satellite IP multicasting is able to send rich multimedia content from one point directly to an unlimited number of sites within the satellite’s footprint, avoiding congested terrestrial router hops. A land-based Internet network typically requires multiple router hops to connect the server to its destinations -a very inefficient mode of content transmission. Streaming media is one bandwidth-intensive application that can be best addressed using broadband satellite technology. Tapping into satellites’ point-to-multipoint IP-based multicasting feature to push content to the edges, content distributors can now bypass congested land-based Internet backbone and expensive trans-oceanic fiber optic links. Both ‘live’ and on-demand media streaming can be offered through broadband satellite technology. Another good area to deploy broadband satellite technology is video-conferencing services. Although e-mails and telephones are common communications tools, there is nothing that beats the face-to-face interactions that are integral to sealing business deals. In Asia, where relationships are built through in-person interactions, video-conferencing injects the essential ‘face’ element in communications while helping companies to reduce the cost of doing business. In today’s information economy, knowledge management has become a mantra for both corporations and individuals alike. The challenge is in finding an appropriate method to deliver uniform, up-to-date information to employees and individuals in multiple locations and/or across numerous time zones simultaneously. One way is through e-learning. According to IDC, the Asia-Pacific e-learning market (excluding Japan) is expected to grow from US$83.5 million in 2000 to US$233 million in 2005, representing a compound annual growth rate of 23 percent. The increase in demand is expected to boom from 2004-5 when the e-learning market is projected to mature and the associated benefits are better understood. While there is no doubt that e-learning will be the next fastest growing business in Asia Pacific, there are some snags with traditional Internet connectivity that may hinder users from enjoying the full benefits of e-learning. One common complaint about e-learning is the lack of interaction between a trainer and many participants. Often, e-learning revolves around reading plain text on-line. With technological improvements, the e-learning experience can be enhanced through instructional audio and video clips or even multimedia applications. This can be achieved through breaking down video clips to discrete segments that can be synchronized with each powerpoint slide on screen. These enhancements, however, tend to be bandwidth-intensive. Secondly, e-learning can be seen as an illustration of a point-to-multipoint content distribution scenario that spreads across multiple locations. In this instance, information from one source (such as a trainer in the US) has to be distributed to many points (for instance, the business partners in China and employees in Singapore) across the globe. Traditional fixed broadband networks are not able to efficiently cope with distributing bandwidth-intensive files to multiple locations. New Beacons In view of the current market needs, new Asian landmass satellites, such as the NSS-6, are designed to offer next-generation, two-way, broadband multimedia satellite services and high-speed Internet access using Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) technology. A two-way digital video broadcasting/return channel via satellite service is another potential service. The NSS-6 satellite will have six Ku-band spot beams covering Asia – one each for India, China, Australia, the Middle East and Southern Africa, Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia. All six beams will be interconnected. In other words, if a signal is uplinked from Hong Kong, it can be downlinked in India with NSS-6. With these new developments, it looks like exciting times ahead for the satellite industry in Asia Pacific. All signs point to the larger role that next-generation, two-way broadband multimedia satellites will play in providing high-speed Internet connectivity solution in Asia. The challenge ahead for satellite operators is to help reduce the gap between the Internet connectivity ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ who live in the region.