Satellite has a key role to play in the architecture of future networks and the acceleration of digitisation, according to Karim Michel Sabbagh, President and CEO of SES. Sabbagh’s comments came as he delivered a keynote address at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “Satellite is a key actor for digitisation and an integral part of the mobile ecosystem, adding reach and efficiency to mobile network operations,” Sabbagh told delegates. “Only combining terrestrial and satellite infrastructures and technologies will lead to significant cost efficiencies, competitive solutions and compelling consumer advantages,” he advised.
Referring to the expected exponential increase in video traffic in all networks, further driven by the introduction of Ultra High Definition (HD) TV, Sabbagh suggested that mobile players were facing “enormous” challenges and the risk that the evolution of network demand and usage would lead to an unmanageable congestion, if there was not a call for a mainstream integration of cellular and satellite infrastructures. “Only by joining forces, both industries can develop converging ecosystems and hence maximize public and private benefits,” he suggested.
Sabbagh underlined the urgency of such an overarching, “hybrid collaboration”: “If for example today’s video content was to be consumed fully on demand and only by terrestrial fixed network in Europe, data consumption per household would multiply by a factor of not less than 35; with Ultra HD, this would again multiply by three or four.” Every monolithic approach to technology would therefore risk falling short of the enormous challenges ahead, he warned. “If we fail, the overwhelming demand for video content and streaming will even deepen the digital gap further.”
Integrating digital infrastructures and combining the strengths of broadcast and broadband technologies, on the contrary, would create a unique combination, Sabbagh concluded. “Where terrestrial networks deliver connectivity, on the one side, and satellites deliver the mass market distribution of IP video and non-video content to homes, on the other, we can offload heavy video traffic from terrestrial networks. This will help all of us control costs, add reach and create truly converged ecosystems that will help us to drive the demand for further and future consumer applications and solutions.”