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The View From ND SatCom
Year In Review
by Dr. Karl Classen, President & CEO of ND SatCom

A sporting year for the satellite communications sector, 2007… there were a significant number of executive moves within the industry, several notable product and technology launches for better performance, the focus on HD technology for broadcasting live sports events, and the countdown for the Beijing Olympics 2008.

For us as a broadband technology provider, system integrator and system house for satellite-based communication solutions, 2007 was an exciting year in terms of project scope, customer diversity, product launches and market trends. Being a member of the SES Group since June 2006, we extended our offering to include complete end-to-end solutions such as ground systems, satellite capacity and managed services.

The Olympics
Of course, the key event for the media is the upcoming 2008 Olympics, which has already fueled growth for satellite-based broadcast technology. From our customer base we know there are different approaches to broadcasting sports competitions and news from the mega event. Rights holders usually bring their own Satellite News Gathering (SNG) equipment to the country, or they rely on an SNG vehicle fleet, which is already maintained in their local offices. Non-right holders rely on content provided by the International Broadcasting Centre or use local SNG uplink services.

ND SatCom is one of the few satellite communications equipment providers to anticipate these requirements. We decided to offer a service package for this niche including vehicle, up- and downlink system, basic production equipment and local service for media companies before and during the Games. With our office in Beijing, we can provide customers with ‘hard’ technology as well as with ‘soft’ services, such as navigating around the area, speaking Chinese or driving.

HD and IP
While on the subject of the Olympics, another buzzword comes into play: HD (High Definition). The 2008 Olympics are to be produced completely in HD for HDTV delivery. HD is nothing new for major broadcasters and now smaller media companies are starting to gear up their fixed and mobile transmission equipment to be HD ready.

Independent from the Olympics, the cost-effective content contribution side for broadcasters becomes more important and requirements are more diverse. There is a clear distinction between broadcasting live sports or cultural events with fully redundant, highly reliable SNG systems and fast news reporting where focus is on mobility, light weight and technology suitable for operation by non-technical staff. In 2007, we extended our portfolio to cater to both needs with a full range of HD uplink systems and an IPTV contribution solution. This allows broadcasters to equip their EB teams or ENG vehicles with a satellite uplink to produce and transmit live IPTV content at comparably high quality and reasonable cost.

Managed SNG Fleets
With long-term business partners such as the WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk), a German public broadcaster, German rt1.tv and GlobeCast, we began working on managed SNG fleets. The idea is to provide non-technical users, such as camera teams and journalists, with the highest level of automation and ease of use when reporting on site. The concept is to create standardized SNG vehicles operated by remote control via database. In these networks, ND SatCom shows its ability to create an end-to-end solution by combining managed networks services with our core technology. This is clearly a field in which we anticipate growth.

The Government and Defence Sectors
Two other vertical markets are drivers for ND SatCom’s core business success: government and defense. At our headquarters in Friedrichshafen, Germany, we run at full speed the development and implementation of equipment for the SATCOMBw Step 2 program, which was awarded to our company by the German Armed Forces in 2006. A highlight this year was the handover of the project’s anchor station in Weilheim, Germany. In the US, a prototype multi-band 2.4M transportable trailer system was developed to attract the attention of military customers who primarily use HMMWV vehicles (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles).

Examples are commercial customers searching for cellular backhaul or business continuity. The military and government arena is clearly looking for reliable and secure solutions for their out-of-area missions, border control projects, Air Traffic Control or emergency communication needs. It has become more effective to create synergies by adapting commercial satcom equipment to the particular needs of these sectors. Examples are lightweight antenna systems, mobile and transportable solutions and easy-to-use systems. In 2008, we expect governmental demand for end-to-end VSAT and hybrid solutions to fuel growth. We are prepared to deliver equipment meeting the highest levels of security as well as offer transponder capacity, modular network operations or complete managed networks.

What 2008 Holds For Us
What do we at ND SatCom expect to occur next year? What environs will be the drivers of our business success? What new grounds will we break through?

From a business perspective, we will continue focusing on our core strengths in the broadcasting, governmental and defence sectors. It is a clear goal to enlarge our end-to-end solution portfolio and to capitalize on our abilities for managed network services as an SES ASTRA affiliate. The commercial market for cellular backhaul, energy networks and corporate connectivity is definitely a promising opportunity for the mid-term.

We have a competent, international and innovative team at ND SatCom, one dedicated in providing our customers with customized solutions fitting their particular business environment and needs. This is definitely the most important pillar our business success relies on, one that positions our company as one of the global players in satellite communications.

From a corporate perspective, and in terms of global presence and capabilities, we will continue in 2008 to build on initiatives already started in 2007.
  • Our American headquarters recently moved to a state-of-the-art, 23,000 square foot facility that houses design, integration and testing of both fixed and mobile satellite earth terminals.
  • Extended training and integration facilities highly prepare us for the needs of the North and South American markets.
  • The SES joint venture with the Dubai-based technology integrator and broadcast equipment supplier GloCom is a strategic fit with the SES group of companies. This is especially true with our office in Abu Dhabi (UAE), which strengthens our position in the whole Middle East and Africa.
  • We can build on our own experience and complement it with GloCom’s reputation and knowledge in the market. ——ND SatCom will continue to maintain and seek new strategic partnerships to enter new markets or push forward new standards and technologies.

Dr. Karl Classen is the President and CEO of ND SatCom GmbH and has held that position since July of 2000. In 1995, Dr. Classen became Chief Financial Officer of Nortel Dasa, the company from which ND SatCom originated. Prior to this, he was VP of Finance and Controlling at DaimlerChrysler Aerospace.

Dr. Classen began his professional career in 1985 in the financial department of Mercedes Benz. From the period of 1989 to 1991, he was Director of Corporate Planning at Daimler-Benz AG. In the early 1980s, Dr. Classen was a research fellow for the German Research Committee.
He holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Bonn.