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BT, Intelsat show way forward for satellite operators

The decision by fixed-satellite service company Intelsat and UK telco BT to interconnect their respective fiber-based services could point the way forward for other satellite and terrestrial operators. The two operators announced March 15 that Intelsat’s IntelsatONE terrestrial network will be connected to BT’s Global Media Network (GMN), initially in New York and London. Both networks run mostly over fiber, combined with some satellite links, and both are driven by MPLS, which has become the most popular protocol for enabling IP-based packet networks to support different types of traffic with varying demands for bit rate and delay. MPLS enables the creation of temporary fixed paths across multiple IP nodes through the use of labels to mark the route.

BT’s GMN has points-of-presence (POPs) and gateways in more than 20 cities worldwide. Having access to those will enable Intelsat to extend the reach of IntelsatONE to media customers operating in new locations in Europe, Africa and Asia, through BT’s PoPs in Rome, Paris, Lagos, Johannesburg, Sydney, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai.

At the same time, the alliance will enables BT to take advantage of IntelsatONE gateways in North America and add Intelsat teleport and satellite offerings to its GMN solutions. The theory is that the joint network will combine the lower bandwidth cost and higher capacity of fiber on the ground, with the ability of satellites to reach remote locations and serve mobile applications. The combined offering is being pitched at major broadcasters, rights owners and media distributors as a seamless solution for global video distribution. Full-time customers will be able to develop their own point-to-point and point-to-multipoint private networks incorporating nodes on the BT and Intelsat fiber networks for contribution applications. They will also have access to Intelsat's portfolio of teleport hosting and MCPC solutions from BT's global GMN fiber locations.

The combined network is also being offered to occasional users or for special events, with access to the BT Tower video switch in London, and future plans are to backhaul feeds from BT's GMN fiber nodes. This can be combined with access to dedicated capacity on Intelsat's global satellite fleet for both SD and HD applications.