Pedro Planas, CTO @ Telefonica Media Networks

February 11, 2013 | By More

SP: Television – Media Networks has exclusively embraced the concept of white-label distribution with its TV platform allowing partners to provide services enabled by MN´s wholesale offering and hybrid network infrastructure. What was the rationale behind such decisive Powered-by-Media-Networks approach?

Planas: Our “white label” business model is flexible because it adapts to the needs of each operator and is implemented with the quickest time-to-market. This model has allowed us to boost TV industry development in the region, incorporating new market players. Our model leaves in the hands of operators all commercial variables (product definition, branding, price, billing etc.) and Media Networks manages everything else; so that operators can focus on developing a commercial strategy and customer-focused operations.

Pedro Planas

Pedro Planas, CTO Telefonica Media Networks

SP: Network Numbers – Currently, how many cable, telco and DTH operators rely on MN´s “Headend In The Sky” (HITS) offering? How many SD and HD channels transported over how many transponders?

Planas: From our teleport in Peru, Media Networks receives, processes and distributes over 500 signals, of which approx. 60 are high definition (HD); to around 20 operators in Latin America. Our operations continue to grow as a reflection of an increasingly dynamic market. We are now upgrading our installations in the Lurin teleport, which is our most important hub in Latin America for satellite pay TV and Internet, and we are building two additional teleports in Chile and the U.S.

SP: Growth Prospects – What are growth prospects for 2013 and beyond both in terms of number of channels and deployed headends and DTH dishes?

Planas: Over the upcoming years, distinct platforms – fixed, mobile and satellite- will converge and complement one another based on the characteristics of each market, dramatically widening service coverage for highly-demanded communication services like Internet and pay-TV. We now have a platform that serves over 1 million end users through over 20 operators that are our clients of our wholesale service. This year, we will continue developing an offering that is attractive and diversified and, along these lines, we plan to surpass the 6 million decoders.

lurin earth station

Lurin, Peru Teleport

SP: HITS vs Self-Deploy – With its HITS offering Media Networks has done the heavy-lifting of building an advanced video headend system that pre-packages TV channels for seamless third-party last-mile distribution. The value proposition hinges on lowering entry barriers for small to medium-sized cable / telco / DTH operators. Can you quantify average savings versus self-buy options?

Planas: Our wholesale service offers alternatives for every client type: large, mid-sized and small. For small operators, as an example, we offer Go Digital, an integrated solution that allows small CATV operators to jump into digitization in a quick and efficient way, and at a competitive cost. This is possible thanks to the multiple benefits offered by a shared infrastructure model like ours. As we know, among other benefits, digitization allows CATV operators to free up considerable network bandwidth to include additional channels and to open the door for premium services and HD. Operators that choose Go Digital have at their disposal a flexible portfolio of more than 400 SD and HD channels, and the service also includes management of the platform and product evolution.

SP: Technology Evolution – As technology development advances in areas such as video transcoding and transrating, it could become increasingly less costly for small cable operators to deploy digital headends on their own. How will Media Networks keep up with technology evolution to ensure that its HITS offering do not constitute a service of diminishing returns for small and medium-sized cable operators?

Planas: Our company follows a path of innovation, supporting, through communications and new technologies, the development of our industry in a region as dynamic as Latin America; which has so much potential that is called to play an increasingly important role. The services we offer are backed by years of operations and knowledge of markets, businesses and their development. To our knowledge in the sector, which has allowed us to gain a very valuable know-how, we add astate-of-the-art technology infrastructure and a highly-skilled team, with over 500 people working in Peru, our operation HQ. We are a dynamic enterprise that accepts challenges and points to the future. Media Networks was born as a content producer and today we provide wholesale TV and Internet services  audiovisual solutions, content production and ad sales across Latin America. This growth responds , to a large degree, to our bet on technology and innovation, to which we add our capacity to stay ahead of the curve and adapt to the increasingly-dynamic market needs.

SP: Linear vs Non-Linear –  Satellite TV distribution economics for linear content are unbeatable but, increasingly, consumers are empowered to consume content in a “non-linear” fashion and through distinct devices. What initiatives are being developed at MN to facilitate partners´ service options to meet consumers’ anytime-anywhere expectations?

Planas: Undoubtedly, markets are dynamic, uses change and needs evolve. Along these lines, without ignoring the preference for linear TV by most people, we are conscious that new trends emerge and that we need to meet new demands. Media Networks has developed an online TV service, an innovative OTT solution that let end clients bring from the could, straight to their TV sets, multimedia, informational, entertainment and cultural content. Includes apps like social networks, Movie City Play and online gaming, among other.

SP: Ultra-HD and 3D – What are your views on 3D and Ultra-HD for the region? Are these poised to eventually become mainstream in Latin America?

Planas: Media Networks has always bet to be at the forefront of new technologies. A proof of this is that three years ago, we launched in Peru the very first 3D channel in Latin America, in association with Movie City. There is a growing demand for this service type which will need to be coupled with content supply that still needs to grow; like what happened originally with HD content, now with unstoppable growth. We will continue to work on new enterprises that allows us to continue to lead and offer operators what their users demand. This is the case of UltraHD, which we will launch during the upcoming FIFA soccer WorldCup 214 in Brazil.

SP: Ka-band Network – Media Networks is soon to become South America´s first Ka-band player with the launch of the Amazonas 3 satellite and the deployment of MN´s new VSAT network infrastructure. Can you please elaborate on the upcoming Ka-band network itself?

Planas: Over the last few years, Media Networks has become the main provider of Ku-band satellite Internet in the region. Simultaneously, we have developed an ambitious project to introduce ka-band satellite Internet in Latin America – which  enables the offering of this service to the residential segment-. In 2012 we took our first step and became first of use of this technology in the region, which we launched in Mexico. In 2013, we will take another very important step because we will be the first to distribute ka-band satellite Internet in South America. Project moves forward and, in paralel to the orbital placement of the new Amazonas-3 satellite, we have begun the construction of new teleports in Chile and U.S.A. through which we will take the innovative service to  Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador and Peru. End users will be able to have access to this new offering in Q3/Q4 2013.

Project includes phase-2 and phase-3, which will add new territories to these services in 2014 and 2015 and will demand an investment of over USD 250 million. These services will be commercialized under a white-label business model, where operators will manage all commercial variables (product definition, branding, price, billing, etc.) while Media Networks manages all else.

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About the Author ()

Carlos Placido is an independent consultant with twenty years of progressive experience in the areas of telecom consulting, business development, engineering and R&D. With focus on emerging satellite markets and technology, he has conducted numerous strategic consulting projects as well as research and management activities, including global market research studies for Northern Sky Research (NSR), business development support for technology vendors and project management at Telefonica. Until 2004, Carlos led a development team at INTELSAT, where he was responsible for identifying and validating future satcom uses of emerging video and IP data technologies. Carlos is also contributor and administrator for Satcom Post, an online professional knowledge-sharing platform. He holds an engineering degree from the University of Buenos Aires and an MBA from the University of Maryland, Smith School of Business.

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