APT Satellite Company Limited, founded in 1992 and listed in Hong Kong Stock Exchange, is a leading satellite operator in the Asia-Pacific region, providing satellite coverage for more than 75% of the world’s population via high-performance in-orbit satellites. With advanced ground equipment and network facilities, APT Satellite offers industry-leading satellite communications and a wide range of value-added services to broadcasters, telecommunications operators and service providers across the globe. These services include video broadcasting, direct-to-home TV, video delivery, news collection, private corporate networks, distance education, broadband access, mobile network base station transmission, and maritime and aeronautical mobility applications, solidifying the company’s position as one of the most important satellite resources in the Asia-Pacific region.
Audiovisual upgrade demands drive digital transformation
Video technologies are evolving from high definition (HD) to ultra-HD, leading to a host of new applications, such as 4K ultra-HD TV, live video, HD social networking/e-commerce and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) gaming. The growth of the ultra-HD video sector requires the upgrade of video production and storage devices, network transmission devices and playback terminals, accelerating the digital transformation of APT Satellite.
Satellite transmission delivers many unique advantages — such as large bandwidth, high speed and wide coverage — for new audiovisual applications. In 2017, APT Satellite promoted 4K TV on its APSTAR-7 satellite to contracted customers. Meanwhile, APT Satellite was exploring ways to make full use of the advantages of satellite TV broadcasting in converged media content production and broadcasting, efficient and collaborative transmission, and intelligent terminal services, to achieve coordinated, integrated development. In addition, unified network facilities serve as the basis for the service support and application platforms, as well as production and office systems. Indeed, the deployment of cutting-edge ICT that enhances the basic network, especially the office network, are instrumental to improving service quality and efficiency.
Network infrastructure bottlenecks in the office environment
For many years, the existing network of APT Satellite has consisted of mainly Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) devices. With limited performance and functionality, however, these devices proved unfit for purpose in today’s wireless office. Besides lacklustre wireless network speed, inadequate for handling a large number of HD videos, there was also no mechanism for integrating wired and wireless security policies. Additionally, quality of service (QoS) could not be guaranteed for users in specific domains and the experience of different services couldn’t be assured in a hierarchical way. Facing all of this, APT Satellite sought a new technology-led network upgrade solution that could address these challenges as well as meet development requirements over the next three to five years. In addition, given limited IT expertise, APT Satellite also wanted to simplify its network operations and increase automation.
Huawei AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 takes centre stage
After a series of solution competitions and proof-of concept (PoC) tests, Huawei’s Wi-Fi 6 solution was selected for its ultra-high performance, stable service experience, and intelligent operations and maintenance (O&M). A leader in Wi-Fi 6 development over many years, Huawei is one of the 16 board members of the Wi-Fi Alliance, has held three chair positions in 802.11ax working groups and contributed over 240 proposals since 2011, ranking first among all device vendors. Indeed, uniquely powered by 5G technologies, Huawei’s Wi-Fi 6 solution integrates advanced antennas, algorithms and networking technologies to deliver unparalleled performance.
After upgrading to Huawei Wi-Fi 6, APT Satellite’s multi-screen office experience has been dramatically improved. Employees can access the office network, office system, and production system at any time and from anywhere, increasing overall work efficiency and mobility.
- Huawei’s unique SmartRadio intelligent radio calibration technology automatically detects air interface quality, intelligently optimises the network, and effectively improves network capacity and the user experience, enhancing overall AP signal coverage stability. Moreover, signal strength at the same location is increased by 100%, while coverage distance is increased by 20% compared to Wi-Fi 5.
- SmartRadio lossless roaming technology uses the network topology identification algorithm to quickly find the optimal AP when roaming. Adopting the soft handoff technique also ensures more stable mobile operations and office work, achieving zero packet loss during roaming for mission-critical services.
- SmartRadio Dynamic Turbo, an intelligent application acceleration technology, helps achieve 10ms ultra-low latency with multi-queue packet scheduling, enabling the network to easily carry heavy-traffic services such as video services.
A secure, reliable and easy-to-maintain network
In terms of security control, Huawei’s next-generation software-defined network (SDN) controller — the Agile Controller — is used to associate the Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) access controller (AC) with the firewall, antivirus and online behaviour analysis systems, to flexibly manage user rights and enterprise data resources. This allows wired and wireless security policies of internal personnel to be unified, with unified authentication on the network. Meanwhile, guests can access the Internet by registering through personalised portals. Such a design allows authorised users to access secure networks, while abnormal users are expelled, effectively preventing breaches in enterprise networks and data security.
In terms of network O&M, Huawei has implemented major improvements with Wi-Fi 6. Big data analytics and machine learning algorithms have been adopted to automatically learn network behaviours and identify fault patterns, helping network management personnel proactively detect potential network issues. Additionally, collecting network data from multiple dimensions enables the network profile of each user to be displayed in real-time, and provides visibility for the entire network experience, covering key metrics such as users, online duration, connected APs, experience status and more. Network management is no longer device centric. Instead, it focuses on the user experience by accurately identifying problems that degrade it, providing network optimisation suggestions.
A brand-new audiovisual experience
In the future, audiovisual services will become ultra-HD, virtual, fragmented and immersive, pushing the need to promote the ongoing transformation and upgrade of broadcasting television services. Various new technologies — including 4K/8K HD video, VR, big data and artificial intelligence — will be deployed throughout the entire ecosystem, from creation and production to distribution, review, playback, monetisation and interaction, driving innovation and precision production of audiovisual content. APT Satellite has always been committed to making full use of its core strengths in broadcasting television and online audio and video resources. By introducing and creating a variety of high-quality content and transmitting the content through multiple channels — including satellite broadcasting, television, network and mobile terminals — APT Satellite ensures an optimal viewing experience and meets the diverse user audiovisual expectations and needs.
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