Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT), the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, today launched a new 176kbps streaming rate for its award-winning BGAN service.

The new mid-range streaming capability is suitable for talking head shots, low movement and relatively static backgrounds. It is compatible with existing video codec solutions and accessible through the existing BGAN hardware that many news crews are already equipped with: the Hughes HNS9201 and the Thrane & Thrane Explorer 700.

“The 176kbps streaming rate is an entry-level service for broadcasters who want to try live video streaming,” said Drew Brandy, Director of Land Mobile Services at Inmarsat. “It provides smaller broadcasters with similar broadcast capabilities to those enjoyed by the major international networks. With 176kbps streaming, the more budget-conscious broadcaster can still deliver decent quality video to their viewers at a lower price point.

“It offers an additional choice to broadcasters who don’t want to use BGAN X-Stream or our 256kbps streaming rate,” he said.

Launched last year, BGAN X-Stream™ is the world’s fastest on-demand streaming service. It offers a streaming IP data rate of at least 384kbps, with an estimated top end of 450kbps. The enhanced video quality of BGAN X-Stream has enabled broadcasters to defer, or even avoid, the need to use SNG trucks. It has been used for hundreds of live video reports in the harshest and most remote locations on the planet; from the depths of the Amazon to the top of Everest.

“Local broadcasters and network affiliates tell us that they love the BGAN X-Stream service, but it’s not suitable for their needs, either because they’re unlikely to get full use from a streaming service, or they are constrained by budget, or because their technology infrastructure is not capable of supporting a service like BGAN X-Stream,” said Brandy. “So, in addition to our new 176kbps streaming rate, we are introducing new and innovative ways to access streaming on BGAN”.

Inmarsat has developed three new propositions with its distribution partners and solution vendors:

  • A “low capex” proposition, in which the broadcaster has access to low-cost versions of the hardware and software needed to stream video; encoders, for example. This option also includes the ability to spread the capital cost over a 12-month period.
  • A “low opex” pay-as-you-go option. This does not require a long-term commitment, and can be activated on a monthly basis. In practice, it will mean that a broadcaster only needs to activate their licence – for a software encoder in the field, for instance – when a news event happens; so the broadcaster only pays for what it uses. This proposition also involves the airtime provider taking responsibility for streaming the content to the studio.
  • A “content delivery” proposition that provides a fully-managed end-to-end solution. This involves an airtime provider using its own network infrastructure to deliver a full pay-as-you-go solution; again, the broadcaster only pays for what it uses. All technological issues, including the ‘last mile’ connectivity into the studio, is managed by the airtime provider.

“These new approaches to the procurement and use of streaming services are revolutionary, and have only been possible through the close co-operation of Inmarsat and our partners and solution providers,” said Brandy. “We can help customers by leveraging our collective expertise and infrastructure, without them having to commit to large expenditure or fully understand the technology behind the live feeds. In all cases, there is minimal technological set-up from a customer’s perspective.

“And for the freelance market, this allows them to sell footage to a wide range of networks without worrying about whether they have that network’s preferred encoder. The airtime provider will take care of that part of the video streaming,” he said.

The propositions can be combined with a customer’s existing infrastructure to enhance its value; or if that does not exist, there are options for last mile connectivity, which delivers content into the studio.

“This is a very important market for us, and we keep innovating to deliver the range of services that broadcasters need,” said Brandy. “With BGAN X-Stream, and now with the 176kbps streaming service and our new business model propositions, we have shown that Inmarsat is working hard to be the most highly-valued mobile satellite communications provider to the global broadcast industry”.

About Inmarsat

Inmarsat plc (LSE: ISAT) is the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services. Since 1979, Inmarsat has been providing reliable voice and high-speed data communications to governments, enterprises and other organizations, with a range of services that can be used on land, at sea or in the air. The company's services are delivered through a global network of more than 400 distribution partners and service providers operating in 100 countries. For the year ended 31 December 2009, Inmarsat plc had total revenue of US$1,038.1 million (2008: US$996.7 million) with an EBITDA of US$594.2 million (2008: US$531.2 million). For more information, please visit www.inmarsat.com.

Copyright Business Wire 2010