Mihai Ursoi on SES Astra, satellite technology and UHDTV

Mihai Ursoi is the Country Manager of  SES Astra for Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova. He joined the company 5 years ago and since than been involved in developing SES Astra’s business in these three countries. He has a degree in Geography and Economics from the Bucharest University and an MBA from Oxford.

What is the scope of the partnership of ASTRA with the European space agency? What is the new project ELECTRA about?

Being a satellite industry leader, with its 55 satellites in orbit, SES is the natural choice for a partner, when it comes to innovations and global reach. We work with the European Space Agency on several projects, such as the development of an electricity propelled satellite – ELECTRA. This project will revolutionize the satellite business as it will expand the lives of the spacecrafts in orbit and will provide a major boost for the space exploration as a whole. SES also partners with European Space Agency on the EGNOS program for a navigation service, as part of the navigation equipment is on board of our satellites.

Your main business revolves around the satellite TV service, what is the competitive advantage of the satellite technology?

Most important advantage is the coverage which with satellites reaches almost 100% of the territory of any given country in the world. Then comes the top quality of picture and sound. Satellite technology is versatile and easily switches over from SD to HD and the HD market is expanding rapidly at the moment. SES ASTRA offers turnkey solutions to its customers.  So the added value is not only in the technological advantage, as we are used to say – satellite capacity is just the beginning.

What are the most important innovations which drive the growth in the satellite business?

There are many innovations on the business side, but for the TV viewers most important would be the upcoming UHDTV revolution and the SAT-IP technology that would change the way we watch TV. UHDTV is a standard pioneered by SES which allows 4 times higher resolution images to be transferred in a manageable and cost effective way, so that your 4KTV will produce a picture with 4 times the quality of the HD standard. This allows for TV manufacturers to increase the size of TV screens and improve the quality of the picture. The SAT>IP technology will allow the viewers to keep up with their favorite shows on any Wi-Fi enabled, screen device in the household. In the near future everyone will be able to view the satellite signal via a smartphone or a tablet or any other screen in the house besides the TV. Basically we aim to offer more easy and comfortable access to a higher quality TV.

When will the UHDTV become a market reality?

This mostly depends on the content producers, because we at SES are ready. We have the right codec, we have the satellite infrastructure with global coverage. We even have a test platform for content producers to test their UHDTV signal through our satellites. With the “SES Ultra HD Experience” initiative, content producers and broadcasters from all over the world are invited to submit footage shot in Ultra HD via a dedicated SES web page, www.ses.com/ultrahd-experience, and are given the opportunity to broadcast and test their content via a SES satellite.

How would you describe the BG TV and SAT TV market compared to other CEE and EU markets?

From what we observed in the past years, satellite reception has been constantly growing while we saw a significant decrease in terrestrial and cable reception. With satellite being the most advanced and advantageous digital infrastructure, we are confident that we can develop our market position and establish ourselves as an important player in the Bulgarian market. Look at the Romanian example. , Despite the fact that the Romanian Pay TV market is highly saturated (over 85%), Orange Romania launched last year on Astra at 31.5 °East a DTH platform which offers more than  40HD channels among nearly 100 in the package. DTH has a significantly higher market share in the EU in comparison to Bulgaria, but the Bulgarian market was less regulated so far. When the dust settles the content and the quality will be the king and queen of the market.  In our view, the BG market has a significant growth potential and we are here to develop it.


Tomislav Savov

Founder and Editor-in-Chief at RainmakerTom

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