Co-chairman at NovelSat, David Furstenberg, warns that demand for satellite bandwidth could soon outstrip supply

The Olympic Games is fast-turning into one of the most broadcast-covered events of the decade, with international broadcasters such as the BBC, NBC and Sky taking to HD live broadcasting to attract viewers. In the UK alone 97% of households are using digital TV services and 43% are viewing HD content over SD.

These numbers may soar during the games, especially as broadcasters such as BBC, Sky and Freesat are distributing 24 extra HD channels in honour of the event. Also, with 3D television proving to be a success with consumers viewing live sports, the demand for good quality broadcasting has never been so great.

However, satellite operators across the globe have been aware for some time that bandwidth capacity in Western Europe has been limited, especially with the proposed extra HD channel. Furthermore, with more consumers opting to view the Olympics on-the-go using tablets and mobile phones, bandwidth will also be consumed across 3G and Wi-Fi platforms.

This extra strain will only add to the growing concern that demand for satellite bandwidth is outstripping supply – a situation that some industry analysts estimate will reach a critical juncture in 2015 when demand will exceed supply.

Fortunately there are solutions available to companies to save bandwidth when both contributing and distributing live coverage. Some broadcast and satellite operators have shifted their focus from improving spectral efficiency to data compression to improve bandwidth capacity, though this method only masks the bandwidth issues on the DVB-S2. It can also hinder the quality of HD and 3D content, which would affect broadcasters on a consumer level, affecting sales and reputation.

Companies need to start implementing innovative solutions to maximise bandwidth capacity and prepare for technology such as Super Hi-Vision. These solutions must incorporate technology that maximises satellite bandwidth without compressing data or the video images.

Companies also should ensure that any hardware purchased over the course of the year be “forwards-compatible” with regard to support for upcoming satellite modulation standards.

Finally with platforms such as OTT, video-on-demand and pay TV on offer to consumers, companies will have to make sure they are prepared for the next generation of distribution methods. This needs to be done before the next Olympics or broadcasters and satellite operators alike will struggle to meet up to the expectations already set in place by London 2012.