Thuraya Link issue 1
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From Backpack to Broadband: A Guide to Successful Deployment of Satellite Broadband Services

By John Huddle, Head of Media & Broadcast, Thuraya Telecommunications

Broadcast media doesn’t like coming in second. The demands of 24-hour rolling news, as well as the emergence of new channels of communications and broadcast models enabled by the internet and social media, mean that the pressure to break news is more intense than ever.

 

Samer Halawi, CEO

 

As this pressure grows, broadcast and multimedia journalists have become more and more mobile — equipped to report live from remote locations, and increasingly able to file stories as they break to meet tight deadlines.

This has also driven the increased use of high-performance mobile satellite equipment for news reporting purposes, providing secure IP-based links to keep journalists in touch and extend the newsroom into the field.

Broadcasters are not immune to cost pressures and media organizations are always looking for ways to better manage their budgets and squeeze more out of their existing resources. Going forward, many see a need to cap their expenditure and avoid the risk of bill shock when using satellite IP connections.

Light, fast, and highly capable

For broadcast media, ease of use and portability of communications equipment are critical factors. Any journalist who has to work in remote locations understands the potential weight and size that satellite equipment can add.

Media on assignment require network connectivity that can be set up as quickly as possible. Ideally, this means that the satellite terminal can be deployed easily and without the need for additional software installation, as well as facilitate fast bonding between the terminal and the laptop for the user to simply open up a browser to configure the modem and make the streaming connection.

Our view is that any data application accessible over a terrestrial IP network can also be transmitted via satellite. A potential issue that users need be aware of when using satellite IP is latency — the delay between sending and receiving data — and applications must be fine-tuned to work appropriately over these channels.

With all of these demands satisfied, reporters should be able to confidently deploy the latest satellite solutions to conduct live broadcasts at locations that are inadequately served by terrestrial networks.

This is particularly important in the case of a major news event such as a natural disaster or during a conflict, when NGOs, governments and media assign maximum resources to a particular area. The result can be that the satellite signal becomes highly contended, and connection speeds tend to slow down because of the high volumes of communication traffic.

In such situations, broadcasters value the benefits of continuous, uninterrupted coverage for reliable data transmission — achieved through dynamic resource allocation to respond swiftly to peaks in bandwidth demand.

A satellite broadband terminal designed for broadcasters

The recent launch of Thuraya IP+ is testament to the significant strides Thuraya has made in developing innovative mobile satellite equipment that respond to emerging market demands and address the requirements of broadcasters.

The performance and versatility of the Thuraya IP+ terminal are backed by the quality of our satellite network. The extensive Thuraya network is among the most capable and stable of any satellite operator. IP throughput speeds are far in excess of comparable services, and the network has additional capacity built in in order to address any peak in demand.

Compact design and easy to deploy

Compact and highly portable, Thuraya IP+ is designed to provide field reporters with quick access to data services as well as facilitate high-speed video streaming and other key broadcasting applications. Additionally, Thuraya IP+ can be rapidly deployed to support high-bandwidth applications — at industry-leading speeds of up to 444kbps on standard IP and 384kbps on streaming IP with a built-in antenna — to enable reporters to deliver news from wherever they are.

Security is another top concern, particularly for journalists operating in conflict zones. The lightweight and compact design of the Thuraya IP+, small enough to literally fit inside a backpack, helps to provide anonymity and ensure their safety while in the field.

Compatible with the leading broadcast solutions

Broadcasters are also becoming increasingly demanding in terms of the kind of applications they can access on the move. In the broadcast media sector, Quicklink, Streambox and Livewire encoding software are some of the most common broadcast solutions that reporters leverage to file their stories.

To ensure that they perform to specifications, we test these applications on the Thuraya IP+ terminal over our network and work closely with the vendors to help ensure that users get the best possible experience.

Unique bandwidth and cost optimization

Media organizations have become some of the biggest users of streaming via satellite. Field reporters require the fastest possible streaming from the source, while also receiving voice cues and feedback from their studio. As such, returning data at the same throughput as it is sent not only degrades performance but also increases costs.

The advantage that asymmetric streaming offers is a back channel at a lower data rate. Thus, the unique asymmetric streaming capability of Thuraya IP+ has the potential to deliver operational cost savings, thanks to the difference in throughput on the front and backhaul channels. The level of saving will depend on the customer’s usage, but on average it can account for between 20 and 50% of the total communications spend.

Thuraya has created a simple automated formula which users can access via their service provider, allowing them to enter their monthly usage and calculate what level of saving they could achieve using asymmetric streaming.

Understanding that media requirements are mainly driven by the demands of world events, Thuraya’s recently launched Media Price Plan further provide broadcasters with the flexibility they need to manage their costs while maximizing bandwidth usage.

Another example is an unlimited usage plan that provides up to 30GB of data at a fixed price, which has generated strong interests from media customers. While users generally pay fixed charges for streaming data, data transfer via the standard IP circuit can now be included in the unlimited plan.

When using Thuraya IP+, reporters can be assured that when it’s time to file their stories, they can always depend on the fastest, most compact, and highest–specification terminal available in the market — backed by the world’s most powerful and capable L-band satellite network.

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