Executive Spotlight On...
Paul Dujardin Founder, President, CEO, Director Genesis Networks
Paul founded Genesis Networks in 2001 and developed and implemented the business strategy for global products. He has more than 35 years of experience in the Video and Telecommunications industries and founded Triumph Communications in 1993, a Video-over-Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) provider, serving as President until its sale to Liberty Livewire in 2000 for $54 million. Triumph Communications designed and implemented the first all-digital dedicated network for CNN, and a local Television backhaul fiber network for DirecTV. Mr. Dujardin worked for broadcast and transmission services company IDB Communications from 1989 to 1993 as Vice President of Sales and Product Development. During his tenure, he developed an industry-standard switch center, which enabled Video connectivity for local customers. While working for Teleport Communications (then a company of Merrill Lynch) from 1984 to 1989 as Director of Sales, he developed their media industry business segment and introduced the first fiber digital video network in the New York City metro area. Paul implemented the first compressed video service with a 45 Megabit transfer rate, which was used by ABC News Nightline broadcast. Mr. Dujardin was President of Mizlou Television Network, an early syndicator of television sports in the U.S., from 1981 to 1984. Prior thereto, he was the Manager of Broadcasting for AT&T from 1971 to 1981, where he created the first Video switching service (AVOC switch) for CNN in Washington, DC.
What are some of the biggest issues facing companies and organizations that depend on satellite communications?
With the explosive growth and high bandwidth requirements of HD programming, its getting harder for broadcasters and cable distribution companies to find and book the satellite capacity they need. Likewise, satellite providers are having an increasingly difficult time meeting demand. Short of launching more satellites into orbit, these companies are searching for cost-effective and viable alternatives to satellite transmissions and thats where fiber networks come in.
Military organizations have relied heavily on satellite communications for decades, but theyre also looking for alternatives, especially given the growing scarcity of bandwidth. It simply isnt practical to connect two relatively close locations with a 23,000-mile satellite hop, and there are security concerns with satellite, as well.
How do fiber optic networks overcome these challenges?
Satellite will continue to be the best option for the point-to-multipoint transmissions of cable distributors, but terrestrial fiber is often superior in point-to-point situations; for instance, a content owner that needs to deliver an HD feed from its headquarters in Sydney to a media distribution hub in New York. In many cases, a transmission that might have required multiple satellite hops before can now be accomplished with a single fiber link, at a lower cost and with higher quality and reliability. Besides relieving some of the pressure on the overburdened satellite system, fiber offers broadcasters greater flexibility for any type of transmission, whether they need a full-time service or a one-time connection for a short-duration broadcast such as a sports event.
As fiber doesnt yet reach into every corner of the Earth, a hybrid satellite-fiber approach can offer the best of both worlds for bringing signals out of far-flung locations. Take the example of a military operation that is transmitting from a remote site. The signal can be uplinked to a satellite for the first mile of transmission, where it can be downlinked and then handed off to a terrestrial fiber network for international delivery.
Fiber offers another plus thats especially attractive to the military: enhanced security. Its not too difficult for just about anyone to pull a signal down from a satellite transmission, but since our fiber network is highly managed, a signal cant be intercepted and demodulated without setting off numerous alarms.
What prompted you to found Genesis Networks?
Throughout my career, Ive worked on taking new and emerging technologies and developing them into commercially viable media transmission systems for companies such as AT&T Broadcast Services and Merrill Lynch. While I was building a teleport communications service for Merrill Lynch, I was approached by IDB Communications to help them expand into video transmission. Although IDB was very satellite-centric, I began to realize the possibilities of fiber for global communications.
In 1993 I started Triumph Communications to perfect video over ATM fiber for telco companies, which was about the time satellite broadcasters such as DirecTV and Echostar were getting started. At that time, DirecTV was having difficulty retaining customers because it couldnt provide local television, so we became DirecTVs exclusive provider of local TV signals via ATM fiber.
By the millennium, we had built a significant network within the United States, serving large customers such as DirecTV and CNN, and I had an opportunity to sell the company to Liberty Media. About that time, large-scale deregulation was taking place in Europe, which offered a prime opportunity to develop a fiber network there. As a result, we launched Genesis Networks in September of 2001 with the goal of becoming the premier provider of global video over IP.
Why has Genesis Networks been so successful in delivering on the promise of fiber optics?
The fiber network weve built with almost 200 points of presence all over the world, has been truly game-changing in terms of how major media organizations gather and distribute news. As a result, weve attracted a lot of attention in the industry and some very high profile customers, such as BBC News, APTN, and CNN. The ubiquity of our network, combined with our hybrid satellite-fiber service, SABER, means that these companies are able to bring high-quality news feeds out of even the most remote locations reliably and cost-effectively.
Another large selling point for our network is our IRIS software service, which allows broadcasters to control their own transmissions. With IRIS, customers can instantly book feeds out of any location and monitor their transmissions from anywhere by accessing the IRIS Web site. No other network service actually places this much control in the hands of customers.
Were also receiving a lot of attention with our services to DTH platforms, which represent the fastest-growing segments of the media industry. DTH companies recognize that theres a huge market opportunity to deliver ethnic programming to expatriate communities in North America, Europe, and other parts of the world; for instance, the large population of India natives living in Canada.
The challenge for DTH platforms is to gather this ethnic programming from its country of origin and deliver it cost-effectively without multiple satellite hops. With fiber, these companies are able to reduce their transmission budgets by as much as 50 percent. Another tremendous advantage of fiber over satellite is that it enables commercial content to be localized for the region in which the content is to be broadcast, which creates a solid new revenue stream.
What do you believe are the biggest opportunities for Genesis Networks over the next five years?
Without question, the explosion in demand for ethnic programming and the need for media companies to deliver it to HD and DTH platforms all over the world will continue to drive our business for years to come. Our commercial insertion service, which enables customers to localize advertising and build revenue with the destination demographic, is a large component of our business.
Another growth area for us is the realm of streaming video for mobile devices; more specifically, delivery of ethnic programming to video phones. Mobile providers have many of the same challenges as the DTH platforms in that they have a large opportunity here but limited resources for gathering and aggregating the content. We can gather the programming from its source via fiber and stream it to the mobile operator.
In the military arena, we see a large opportunity for training applications.
This goes far beyond video conferencing and involves connecting bases with contractors via fiber for high-end, HD presentations and training on design and research. We could provide a highly secure and budget-friendly environment in which defense contractors working with the Pentagon and key military organizations could discuss design, status, and workmanship of various projects in the works.