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Bridge Technologies — YEAR IN REVIEW

Frostad + logo Like nearly everyone, I suspect, I’ve been trying to work out what the financial crisis of 2008 really means in terms of day to day impact on jobs, markets, investment and life in general. And so far, it’s been a fairly surprising story, at least from our perspective.

At the start of the period, Bridge Technologies had a very full order book, with a huge increase in customer demand…and at the end of this year, we’re in exactly the same situation: huge demand, our best-ever yearly performance, and ever-increasing orders. So was Bridge Technologies completely unaffected by the crunch? Well, not quite. Wind the clock back eight or nine months and we were certainly concerned, because many the projects we had lined up with our partners and customers were suddenly on hold. Nobody wanted to press the button on new investment until they had been able to evaluate the new financial landscape. We couldn’t tell at the time how long this freeze would last. By April, the momentum seemed to have gathered again, not a single project was cancelled or put on hold, and we’ve been exceptionally busy since then.

In this respect I think our sector of the industry has been much luckier than some others. In part, this is due to the unstoppable logic behind the development of DigitalTV over IP, which ensures that the sector keeps moving forward. Some of the more traditional broadcast production areas, where the investment decisions are about equipment such as cameras, switchers and routers, have not been not so fortunate, but we are hoping it’s just a matter of time before they too return to normal.

But the DigitalTV over IP market as a whole is gathering momentum now as operators reach milestones in their installed base. It takes a long time to build the infrastructure to deliver to millions of homes and to reach the kind of scale that creates its own momentum. Many operators are now in that position, and consequently they are experiencing a ‘hockey-stick’ curve in the subscriber sign-up. This creates a real acceleration in the necessity for investment, and of course in revenue. We see this with all the international players, with customer numbers ramping up by hundreds of thousands quite rapidly.

For Bridge Technologies, two of our biggest milestones this year have been the inclusion of the satellite DVB-S/S2 interface in the VideoBridge system. This gives the system all the interfaces — satellite, DTV, Digital Cable, and IP — needed to provide a true end-to-end capability. Together with the launch of our microVB™ in-home analysis device, that gives us the true ability to correlate all the technologies from satellite to set-top box (STB) and quickly isolate faults wherever they occur in the transmission chain.

A couple of large-scale system installations stand out for us this year too. Virgin Media is undertaking a very ambitious infrastructure project — the biggest Digital Cable initiative this year in Europe — and deploying an end-to-end Bridge Technologies system, taking in DVBT, DVB-S, DVB-C and IP, for its headend and all 54 regional centres. In the Netherlands and also large, the project with Ziggo, the country’s largest cable provider, will also see a full deployment of VideoBridge monitoring from end-to-end. Whatever the impact of the crunch so far, it’s been a great year for the company.