[Via Satellite 10-15-2014] Milano Teleport, the largest independent teleport in Italy, has undertaken a drastic shift in the focus of its business. Built in 2002 around an uplink to one of Eutelsat’s Hotbird satellites, the company’s primary focus was Direct-to-Home (DTH) broadcasting. But in 2011, the teleport’s primary broadcasting customer discontinued purchasing capacity. Since then, Milano Teleport has re-centered its business on providing broadband through VSATs. The change has breathed new life into the company and is now the rationale behind a host of new projects.
“We were used to supplying uplink and bandwidth to a lot of little television networks in Italy — private TV channels that no longer exist. Because of the [financial] crises, and because of the changing use of TV, such as Pay-TV or IPTV, we are now a company that is mainly based on VSATs. We made a big turnaround last year investing in VSATs,” Umberto Gallo, CEO of Milano Teleport, told Via Satellite.
Gallo said Milano Teleport is now in its fifth year of consecutive growth, with the maritime market becoming a new top focus. This year the teleport had a Calculated Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 35 percent. New customers in offshore oil and gas markets as well as yachting customers in the Mediterranean have become catalysts for revenue.
“This growth is not stopping,” said Gallo. “Keep in mind that the broadband maritime market CAGR is 16 percent, so we are more than double the market. This is possible because the demand for Internet access on board is very high.”
But the Milano Teleport’s DTH business, albeit atrophied, has not vanquished. Gallo said the television side of the business is now working on a different business model. The emerging preference for IPTV prompted the creation of an IPTV solution that has been well received in the maritime sector.
“We can consider it like a startup, because we just started this year, but we have supplied the first live channels on certain ships for a test here in the Mediterranean, and now our TV business unit workers have made agreements to distribute this content with IP instead of satellite directly,” said Gallo.
In the Middle East, however, DTH is starting to take root again for Milano Teleport. Gallo said the growing economies and lack of substantial terrestrial infrastructure are the reasons for new business in the region. This time Milano Teleport is trading capacity, rather than uplinking from its Milano, Italy site.
In 2005 Milano Teleport purchased an iDirect hub — one of the first manufactured — to begin building up a VSAT business case. Gallo said previous management saw far ahead and was able to pave the way for a vital new revenue source. Milano Teleport now has new customers in the Middle East, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Sea of Japan, where shipyards and oil and gas sites are showing increased demand for connectivity.
This year the company extended its C-band coverage for oil and gas customers. Milano Teleport also recently reached global coverage in Ku band. In April this year SES and Milano won a two-year contract to connect the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development’s (ENEA) Mario Zuccelli research station in Antarctica.
Going forward, hybrid solutions and greater VSAT services such as Voice Over IP (VOIP) are in the works. Gallo said Milano Teleport is also actively researching Ka-band solutions with partners and suppliers. The company’s long-term strategy includes focusing more heavily on maritime and turnkey solutions and going global with a permanent presence in Asia, North and South America. Ultimately, Milano has learned how to adapt to industry trends in order to capitalize on new opportunities when others waned.
“You can read it like a turnaround: A company born to provide DTH now is providing mainly VSAT,” said Gallo.
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