STN Trials HEVC for DTH services

At NAB The Broadcast Bridge met up with senior executives from satellite service provider STN. Mitja Lovsin, STN’s sales and marketing director, talked about the market, and an exciting new project that will use HEVC encoding and is to air late summer, 2015. STN, the Satellite Telecommunications Network, is based in Slovenia and uplinks 500 channels from their teleport. The company also provides playout facilities for 50 of those channels.

How do you see the satellite market in 2015?

“Our point of view is that despite the increase in OTT and IPTV services, we still see a huge demand for satellite services.” said Mitja Lovsin, “The smaller operators that are concentrating on Europe are seeing a downturn in that region. We operate worldwide. Demand in the Middle East is huge—though there is a shortage of transponders. We also see big growth in Africa.”

With little residential fiber rollout in the Middle East and especially in Africa , OTT and IPTV is not set to supplant or replace satellite distribution for some time.

“We continue to see strong growth in our operations, with increases in revenue of 15% last year, following on from 15% the previous year, an achievement we are very proud of,” said Lovsin.

How are you coping with this increasing business?

Lovin explained: “We are in the planning stages of further expansion to allow for continued growth of both client base and services provided. More details will be announced later this year.”

With both the turnaround and original playout business growing the company is hiring. To staff the additional services, STN are employing graduates straight from university, and training them in satellite and playout operations.

STN operates 50 playout channels along with encryption services

STN operates 50 playout channels along with encryption services

What’s your current project?

“We are testing new subscription DTH channels for an African broadcaster. They have opted for HEVC/H.265 compression, which allows then to deliver 30 SD channels over a single transponder.” The service will use a Ka-band uplink.

HEVC is often thought of as the enabler for UHD, but the more efficient compression has application for delivery of video to mobile devices, where bandwidth is always limited, and for SD and HD.

In tests STN have found that they can use a data rate of 800kb/s, against 1.3Mb/s for an equivalent H.264 channel. HEVC compression will allow a 50% saving in the transponder costs for each channel.

The trials are using Ericsson encoders.It is anticipated a July/August 2015 install. With HEVC decoder chips already in production, the broadcaster can roll-out set-top boxes in a short timescale.

STN also promise some exciting developments throughout this year, but for now they remain under wraps.

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