Innovative Tech Can Help Integrators Deliver More In-Room TV Services

A survey by Research Now found that 75 percent of hotel guests find satellite TV to be an important part of their stay, and 69 percent of guests traveling for business would prefer to pay more for this service. Additional data indicates that hotels with better TV services also generate higher room service revenues, while also receiving better guest satisfaction scores. 

Meanwhile, the rise of over-the-top (OTT) internet streaming and subscription video on demand (SVoD) services has not only changed what content people watch but also how they watch it; consumers are increasingly viewing content on smart connected devices. Fortune Business Insights recently reported that OTT market growth will be largely driven by the rising number of smartphone users. 

While such trends are prompting both large chain hotels and smaller independents to invest in enhanced in-room infotainment, the shift can require a significant capital investment along with potentially disruptive renovation works. For installers and system integrators responding to RFPs, the ability to offer a simpler and lower-cost alternative to IPTV can mean the difference between winning or losing a deal. 

SAT>IP, a recent innovation by the satellite industry, could help them deliver a simple upgrade to a hotel’s entertainment that would give operators a new way to  offer guests a totally seamless multi-screen TV experience, including 4K UHD content,

Modern Consumption Habits are Bandwidth Heavy 

In the U.K., SVoD penetration has surpassed 50 percent, with 14.27 million U.K. homes holding a subscription to at least one of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or another streaming service, according to BARB. To add to that, 4K UHD TVs are now a mainstream asset for most households in the U.S. and Europe, meaning the demand for 4K sports matches, movies, and top series is skyrocketing. 

The demand for high-quality content across multiple screens and devices can put major pressure on a hotel’s broadband bandwidth. Furthermore, the ability of OTT services to deliver premium 4K content is still limited by the lack of fibre infrastructure and other high-speed broadband technologies in remote locations. To stream UHD content, Netflix recommends an internet speed of 25Mbs, yet the global average broadband speed is only 9.1Mbps according to research by Cable. To be able to deliver modern TV experiences, hotel operators risk slowing down internet speeds, resulting in a negative experience for guests watching TV or browsing via the hotel WiFi. 

Delivering Satellite TV over IP 

SAT>IP, an industry protocol, offers hoteliers a simpler way of increasing the reach of content not only to the in-room TV, but also to guests’ own personal devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The technology works by taking a conventional satellite TV signal and converting it to an IP based data stream that can then be transmitted across a standard wired or wireless IP network and viewed on multimedia and IP compatible devices.

[The Integration Guide to AVoIP]

Access to high-quality premium content has always been a major draw for satellite TV, and with its downstream bandwidth over 100Mbps, satellite TV makes for a highly attractive option for delivering 4K premium content, regardless of local broadband availability. That means 4K multi screen delivery is possible even in locations where a high-speed broadband connection isn’t possible due to a lack of infrastructure—such as a remote holiday resort.

Additionally, the flexibility of delivery over IP can help open up exciting new revenue models for hotel operators. For example, they could offer access to personalized subscription packages—including sports, movies, TV series, or content for children. 

Simplified Room Refurbishments

By integrating live premium TV alongside Video on Demand (VoD) services, delivered over a single IP network to anywhere within a resort, SAT>IP can simplify room refurbishment projects. For older hotels where the cost of a major refurb is difficult to justify, SAT>IP requires a less complex and expensive IP architecture. 

To go slightly deeper into the technology; IPTV usually relies only on IP multicast as a transport protocol. A pure IP multicast service such as IPTV can become a hurdle to implement as major networks on hotel complexes will often require multicast routing protocols. Such protocols are sometimes not supported on certain routing equipment and will present buggy implementations or are simply not employed by network integrators. Unicast services, although less efficient, present fewer problems to integrate onto IP networks and particularly legacy ones. 

As SAT>IP supports both IP multicast and unicast, it is potentially the best of both worlds, offering the scalability for hotels supporting IP multicast, and backwards compatibility on legacy networks without multicast support. It also works via existing IP networks, meaning hoteliers will not need to drill holes or lay extra cables throughout their premises to enable it. All hotels need an IP network anyway, so why not leverage it to deliver a highly reliable, high-quality TV-everywhere service?

Thomas Wrede

Thomas Wrede is the president of the SAT>IP Alliance and the vice president, new technology and standards in the video business unit at satellite operator SES in Betzdorf/Luxembourg, where he and his team are responsible for providing strategic recommendations regarding innovative technology developments in the video, IP, and communications technology segments. Thomas’ team is also responsible for developing new satellite reception products and solutions.