How Satellite TV Could Improve the Guest Experience


Competition among hotel businesses has never been greater. In the face of the rival 10 million properties listed on sharing economy websites such as Airbnb, hotels worldwide are striving to differentiate themselves in a tightly competitive market. Meanwhile, guests who are spending more time at hotels and resorts increasingly expect a better-than-at-home experience during their stay.

Hoteliers can differentiate themselves from their competition and improve the guest experience by upgrading their entertainment offerings, and recent innovations by the satellite industry could help them do just that.

Meeting modern TV consumption habits

The way TV content is consumed has drastically changed over the last decade and it is challenging for hoteliers to meet modern expectations. The rise of over-the-top (OTT) internet streaming and subscription video-on-demand (VoD) services has not only changed what content people watch but also how they watch it.

People are increasingly viewing content on smart connected devices. In the UK, VoD penetration has surpassed 50 percent, with 14.27 million UK homes holding a subscription to at least one of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or another streaming service, according to BARB. Meanwhile, Fortune Business Insights reported that the OTT market will continue to grow, noting that the rising number of smartphone users will primarily drive this growth. Additionally, with the rise of 4K UHD TVs, people expect to view content in the highest quality. 4K UHD TVs are now a mainstream asset for most households in the US and Europe, meaning the demand for 4K sports matches, movies and top series is skyrocketing. So, what does this mean for hoteliers?

The demand for high-quality content across multiple screens and devices can put significant pressure on a hotel’s broadband bandwidth. Furthermore, the ability of OTT services to deliver premium 4K content is still limited by the lack of fiber infrastructure and other high-speed broadband technologies in remote locations. The global average broadband speed is only 9.1Mbps, according to research by M-Lab. To deliver modern TV experiences, hotel operators risk slowing down internet speeds, resulting in a negative experience for guests watching TV or browsing via the hotel WiFi.

Helping hoteliers deliver modern services, even in remote holiday locations

Access to high definition, premium content has long been a significant draw for satellite TV providers. This includes a wide range of live news and premium sports channels, plus local language channels suitable for international travelers.

SAT>IP, a satellite industry protocol, offers hoteliers a simpler way of increasing the reach of these services to the in-room TV and guest devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Furthermore, SAT>IP opens up new revenue models by offering access to personalized subscription packages, including sports, movies, TV series or content for children.

The technology works by taking a conventional satellite TV signal and converting it to an IP based data stream. This can then be transmitted across a standard wired or wireless IP network and viewed on multimedia and IP compatible devices.

To stream UHD content, Netflix recommends an internet speed of 25Mbs. This makes satellite TV, with its downstream bandwidth of over 100Mbps, a highly attractive option for delivering 4K premium content, regardless of local broadband availability. A simple upgrade to a hotel’s entertainment offering means hotel operators can offer guests a seamless multiscreen TV experience, including 4K UHD content, even when a high-speed broadband connection isn’t possible.

This means that holiday resorts in remote locations, where high-speed broadband infrastructure is too expensive to deploy, can leverage SAT>IP to offer the same high-quality experience as a metropolitan hotel. Using SAT>IP technology in areas with low broadband speeds will democratize access to high-quality TV experiences, meaning hotel guests globally are guaranteed access to premium video during their stay.

New revenue models and simplified room refurbishment

SAT>IP also simplifies room refurbishment projects by integrating live premium TV alongside VoD services, which are delivered over a single IP network to anywhere within a resort.

For older hotels where the cost of a major refurb is difficult to justify, SAT>IP requires a less complicated and expensive IP architecture. To go slightly more in-depth into the technology, IPTV usually relies only on IP multicast as a transport protocol. A pure IP multicast service such as IPTV can become a hurdle to implement as major networks on hotel complexes will often require multicast routing protocols. Such protocols are sometimes not supported on specific routing equipment and will present buggy implementations or are simply not employed by network integrators.

Although less efficient, unicast services present fewer problems to integrate onto IP networks and particularly legacy ones. As SAT>IP supports both IP multicast and unicast, it is potentially the best of both worlds, offering the scalability for hotels supporting IP multicast and backward compatibility on legacy networks without multicast support.

SAT>IP works via existing IP networks, meaning hoteliers will not need to drill holes or lay extra cables throughout their premises to enable it. All hotels need an IP network anyway, so why not leverage it to deliver a TV-everywhere service?

SAT>IP can be delivered using satellites covering 95% of the globe, potentially reaching over a billion viewers. Combining satellite with an IP network enables hotel operators to deliver a “better than at home” experience by offering customers high-quality entertainment options across multiscreen, multi-device with ease.

About the Author

Thomas Wrede is the President of the SAT>IP Alliance and the Vice President, New Technology and Standards in the Video business unit at satellite operator SES in Betzdorf/Luxembourg, where he and his team are responsible for providing strategic recommendations regarding innovative technology developments in the video, IP and communications technology segments. Thomas’ team is also responsible for developing new satellite reception products and solutions.

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