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View from Asia and the Enterprise markets
Year In Review
by Michael Fleck, Global Vision

Any year that begins with an earthquake cutting most of the telecommunications with China and East Asia was always going to be ‘interesting’ — and this year did not let us down. The tremors that followed through 2007 were not as apparent but much more positive and no less significant.

In general, we saw major multinational corporations begin to sit up and look around after a year’s focus on the West to realize this place called Asia has become not only their largest potential market, but also accounted for a rapidly growing number of their employees. This lead to a shift in perspective by the hard-core satellite players. Enterprise applications in Asia became mainstream for the first time. An earthquake indeed.

Consider some of the innovations and new applications that started to roll out in Asia during 2007 and are set to gather momentum in 2008…

MPEG-4 has moved from an interesting toy to an accepted professional standard, with the added bonus of relatively easy integration within corporate LAN systems. This means that good quality, standard definition video is being delivered to the desktop with as little as 1 Mbps. Exceptional quality SD is at the desktop and on large screens using just 2 Mbps.

High definition MPEG-2 is taking us back to full transponder use (what would it take in analog!) Trials of HD using MPEG-4 earlier this year will lead to 6 to 10 Mbps delivering great HD signals from New Zealand in the east to Dubai in the west—with a single feed and into antennas as small as 1.8 meters. The first MPEG-4 high definition MCPC services across Asia will be launched around mid year.

One of the exciting markets for the high-end services is satellite distribution of digital cinema. The first pilot network (SD, so far) has been installed in Australia to deliver live events into regional towns spread across the continent. The service is set to convert to HD and grow quickly in 2008 to cover all major population centers before expanding into India, South East Asia and China.

The first event will be on December 7th when the Australian Ballet Company and Australian Film Commission present The Nutcracker live from the Sydney Opera House. This will be the first time in Australia that digital cinema technology has been used to give regional audiences the opportunity to experience a live performance by one of Australia’s flagship arts companies at the same time as an audience in a metropolitan area. Return feeds from some receiving sites will make it a nationwide, interactive event effectively showcasing the benefits and potential of the technology.

At the other end of the bandwidth spectrum is an untapped market for satellite distributed digital signage. The uptake of this application has been hampered in Asia because of poor access to reliable bandwidth and in-country infrastructure and support. Satellite delivery is making it a reality by giving users the same degree of quality, and control, as experienced in the U.S. and Europe.

These trends are set to accelerate in 2008, but the focus in Asia remains China and, in particular, the Olympics in Beijing. The opening ceremony is scheduled for 08-08-08, a lucky number in Chinese numerology and all concerned are hoping it does the trick!

However, access to satellite services for the Beijing Games has been hampered by incomplete, confusing and, at times, contradictory announcements and regulations. There’s just over eight months to go, so watch this space for updates and progress reports.

Traditional BTV networks will continue to expand into Asia in 2008, but there is an enormous untapped potential for other enterprise application. As VSAT costs continue to fall, we will see more and more companies rolling out Disaster Recovery systems. Watch for an increase in Distance Education, especially in India and China, as well as developments in the low bandwidth areas such as digital signage. Developments of earthquake proportions!

Michael Fleck is managing Director of Global Vision Networks, the Asia Pacific region’s leading provider of services to the corporate world. Based in Sydney with representative offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Chennai (India) and soon in Beijing, Global Vision offers complete turnkey solutions for everything from downlinks into hotels to disaster recovery capability across the region.

Global Vision Networks is ISO 9001 certified, a big plus for maintaining quality in the design and management of permanent and occasional solutions for the enterprise market in 17 countries of the AP region. Since 1992 the company has assisted multinational corporations with a range of solutions including location television production, fixed and SNG uplink, temporary and permanent downlinks and an extensive network of satellite equipped five star hotels for special events.