In January 2015,  media analyst and broadcaster Jonathan Marks sat down for a discussion with Xenio Gubbels, CEO of XLVision, one of Europe’s leading audio-visual system integrators. Jonathan was curious to understand the trends, especially for those living in rural areas.

Xenio Gubbels CEO

Xenio Gubbels CEO

Xenio: “Major sporting events like the World Cup, Wimbledon or the Tour de France are always our busiest moments. But this year has been particularly busy. That’s because there are a number of trends running in parallel. Let me explain.”

The rise and rise of video on-demand across Europe

The broadcast world is in a constant state of flux. There are budgets cuts going on, especially to the public service broadcast networks. These organisations always look for ways to cut their distribution costs first before they reduce production. In the UK, we’ve seen the announcement that the national digital TV channel BBC 3, will close in late 2015 at a saving of 63 million Euros. This content will then only be available as a on-demand on-line service in the future.

The total turnover in the German video-on-demand (VOD) market expected to rise to around €750 million by 2019. With an annual growth of around 50%, subscription offerings will record the strongest growth, according to the German media consultancy Goldmedia in its new study Video-on-Demand Forecast 2014-2019.

20% of German internet users currently use VOD services, according to a survey conducted among more than 1,100 internet users. Most of them prefer free-of-charge, advertising-financed platforms like MyVideo or Clipfish. One third of VOD users have signed up for an S-VOD service such as maxdome, Watchever or Sky Snap. The rental or purchase of single movies or series has become less important.

In the Netherlands, national broadcaster NPO is trying to develop an extended player for which the public will have to pay to access, in addition to the basic fee being charged through general taxation. In my view, broadcast is still the best method to distribute news, sports, weather and live events to millions of people at the same time. All the investment is made for the first viewer. But then it doesn’t cost any more to reach anyone else with the transmitter’s coverage area. So it is easily scalable.

But linear broadcasting means that the audience doesn’t get to say much about the time slot when a programme is aired. For content like films and documentaries, which is never live, suppliers like Netflix and LoveFilms are the new competitors to traditional broadcast. I think they are significant because these new companies measure everything and really understand the needs of their audiences. They have to, or they go out of business.

This on-demand content requires the consumer to have a fast reliable Internet connection. Otherwise the playback gets “jittery” – as far as I am concerned it becomes unwatchable.

So what has this trend meant for our Audio/Video business?

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Fibre optic cable is being laid at a record tempo in the Netherlands

We specialize in building audio-video systems for clients that want the latest and the best. They are often successful business people who have bought property in France, Spain or the UK. They want access to television in high-definition (or better). They also need access to high-speed Internet in order to continue their business remotely and/or to access the new film services like Netflix. I

In the Netherlands, we’re see connectivity across the country going up very quickly. Download speeds of 20 MB/sec are becoming the norm, when a few years ago (when ADSL was popular), 4 MB/sec was considered to be “high-speed”. That’s because there has been a national campaign to push glass-fibre to the home. People are now paying for 50 MB/sec download speed the same as what they paid for 5 MB/sec in 2011.

But what about Internet in rural areas?

We regularly visit and support customers at several locations in the UK, France, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain.

If your house is within reach of the city cable system or the new fibre networks, then getting fast, stable Internet is going to be easy. All our services for both broadcast television as well as security monitoring are designed to work seamlessly with broadband cable and fibre connections.

For those living in rural areas, getting a reliable, fast Internet connection is a different story. Often broadband cable or fibre is a just a distant promise from a local Internet provider. We know from experience that the costs of these projects is extremely expensive – they only pay off in cities where there are high numbers of subscribers per square kilometre.

So rather than wait for local authorities to act, XL Vision has examined alternatives that work today.

In the last couple of years, one satellite provider has pioneered “Internet via the Satellite” services, which work well in Southern Europe around countries in the Mediterranean basin. We’re an authorised Tooway installation specialist. As the name implies, the satellite dish not only receives the signal from the satellite. It transmits a return signal back to the satellite. That’s why you need a special dish, which needs to be accurately positioned.

The system requires a very precise installation procedure, which is not something you can do yourself.

The video for the professionals takes 18 minutes to explain the setting up procedure. We’ve included it here just for the sake of curiosity. Believe me, you don’t want to do this installation without the right tools and experience. 

Important: What you need to know about satellite broadband.

Broadband via satellite is not the same as a broadband service from a local operator.

Remember signals have to travel up to and down from the satellites located in geostationary orbit, 36000 kilometres above the Earth. Even though the signal travels at the speed of light, the so called latency can be as much as 0.7 of second. That’s not a problem if you’re just downloading or streaming content like a film. But it can cause problems if you’re gaming on a Playstation 4 with several other players online. The delay between you pushing the console button and that instruction reaching the gaming server in another country is just too much.

4Y3A3196Tooway’s acceleration technology promises to shorten travel time and the speeds now available – up to 20Mb – are actually faster than many home and mobile broadband deals.

However, to maintain those speeds using this technology in the face of the latency challenges Tooway are forced to apply download restrictions on their cheaper subscriptions. That’s why we only support the top end Tooway subscriptions marked “unlimited”. We don’t think users are good at predicting their bandwidth usage in advance as Tooway claim.

Viprinet Bonding Technology

We have also been trialling the Viprinet technology from Germany. This extremely clever technology is able to bundle bandwidth from different sources. If you have a slow DSL or cable connection, the Viprinet technology is able to accelerate the download speed by combining it with Internet bandwidth via the satellite. This is quite complicated and therefore the modems to do this are not cheap.  However, we do think that this provides an excellent option in certain areas. We have more details on what works – and what doesn’t. Just give us a call.

In addition to our expertise in Internet via Satellite systems, our team can offer specialist advice in two other important areas.

We can also help plan your next project ( and save money), especially if you are in the planning stage of an extension or a renovation.

Two Topical Tips for Clients in Southern Europe!

voltageWe have recently been consulted to solve strange anomalies at properties in Southern France, Italy and Spain. Set-top boxes started malfunctioning or Internet connectivity suddenly slowed down. We did a lot of measuring and analysis. We discovered two important points to watch out for.

1. We take it for granted that the local electrical supply is a constant 220 volts. We discovered that these properties were in fact suffering from brownouts, i.e. an electrical supply that sometimes dropped as low as 160 volts AC and had frequent high voltage spikes. Sudden voltage variations and dropouts put enormous strain on sensitive electronic equipment such as routers, amplifiers, cameras and screens. So if several devices suddenly start to act strange, don’t forget to have your mains power supply checked immediately. Ask neighbours if they are also suffering from similar problems. This phenomenon is well-known in the US, especially during the summer months when the load from air-conditioners often triggers brownouts. But now, it seems, it is becoming more common in parts of Europe.

2. Many devices in the home are now “smart”.  That means they offer enhanced features when they’re connected to the Internet. Smart devices include TV’s, tablets, thermostats and home security systems. In fact, some of these new devices won’t work properly unless they’re permanently connected to the web. Are you really getting the speed your Internet provider claims? Speedtest.net is a simple way of checking if you’re getting what you pay for. Is your router using the latest firmware? Some of the problems we detected in uneven Internet performance were traced to the router, using an out of date version of the router software. Is there a problem? Contact your local Internet provider first.

Contact us!

We are always happy to help!

Want to know more about Internet via Satellite services to your rural location?
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