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Teleport Certification Doubled Its Reach in 2018

Posted By Robert Bell, Thursday, January 24, 2019

In 2015 at IBC, WTA introduced the world’s first certification program specifically for teleports. At the time, there were certifications for data centers, for telecommunications equipment, for buildings and much else, but nothing for the “data center with dishes” that is today’s teleport.

Satellite operators asked us for help in qualifying teleports as partners for the delivery of services. Teleport operators wanted a way to distinguish the quality of their operations and facilities from lowball competitors. Responding to demand, we convened a group of experts who developed standards and a detailed evaluation questionnaire.

We asked teleport operators to complete the questionnaire, and after analysis, awarded those with passing scores a Provisional Certification good for one year. It was provisional because it is based solely on self-reported data. But we urged every operator to go to the next step: Full Certification based on an inspection by a WTA-appointed auditor. With the data from the auditor’s report, we then issued certifications at one of four quality tiers, from Tier 4 at the top to Tier 1 at the bottom.

From Early Adopters to the Mainstream

Our first early adopter was the Talia Teleport in Raisting, Germany – and we will always be grateful to them for going first. On the completion of their full audit in 2016, we awarded the facility a Tier 3 certification, signifying a high level of quality in their facility, technology and procedures. Other independent teleports soon followed: Horizon Teleport in Moosburg, Germany; Signalhorn Trusted Network in Backnang, Germany and Leuk, Switzerland; Globecomm in Hauppauge, New York, USA; and Elara Comunciaciones in Mexico City.

Gradually, much larger companies began to apply: Optus and Eutelsat, Arqiva and du, Telenor, Intelsat and Speedcast. From that cluster of early adopters in early 2016, the number of certified teleports grew to 22 by the end of 2017 and then doubled to 46 by the end of 2018. The world’s three top satellite operators decided in 2018 to add a question about certification to their evaluation questionnaires for partner teleports, and end-customer RFPs began to do the same. The growth has been gratifying, but the most important result is not just growth. It is in creating a transparent standard for quality and motivating teleport operators to adopt it, whatever level of price-performance their customers require.

When the Board approved this project in 2015, the mandate was clear. Certification was a means to drive quality improvement across the industry to the benefit of customers and operators alike. We’re glad to have come this far on the journey, and we look forward to finding new ways to help teleport operators raise their game in 2019.

Tags:  certification 

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Inside the Tier 4 Teleport (Part 1)

Posted By Robert Bell, Thursday, August 30, 2018

We go through life protected by rules and procedures that are mostly invisible to us. Your airplane flight is safe because of a mass of rules and procedures governing every aspect of the journey. Your food is safe because producers must be certified as meeting certain standards. The same kind of certifications protect the (legal) drugs you take.

The digital world we all inhabit is likewise protected by the certification of data centers as meeting standards for robust operation. The business of broadcast is standards-based and much of its technology is certified for quality. But it was not until 2014 that there existed a set of standards and certification for a key part of the broadcast value chain: the teleport. That facility and set of technologies that connect ground-based content to the contribution and distribution networks in the sky. 

One Out of Five

In that year, the World Teleport Association began certifying the facilities and operating procedures of teleports. Certification provided the first objective and transparent way for teleport operators to validate the quality of their operations, and for customers to choose vendors that offer the right price-performance level for their needs.

Teleport certification is based on an in-depth questionnaire created by a Standards Committee of teleport and satellite executives. It covers business continuity, transmission systems, network operations, safety and security. Questions explore how the teleport manages capacity, maintains service levels, ensures security and oversees changes. Full Certification includes a site inspection by a WTA auditor, who also issues a report suggesting ways to improve operations. The end result is certification at one of four quality levels, from Tier 1 at the bottom to Tier 4 at the top.

What does it take to become a Tier 4 teleport? It is not meant to be easy – and it isn't. Only one out of every five teleports certified by WTA achieves the coveted Tier 4 level. Tier 4 teleports are designed and maintained with remarkable attention to all the factors that ensure high availability and resilience in the face of problems.

More Than Satellite

Certification for teleports is especially important at a time when they have become so much more than uplink sites. Teleports that serve the media and entertainment business are data centers and content hubs. They ingest content, format it, schedule it and play it out. They protect it. They feed it not just to the sky but to content distribution networks that drive the OTT business. They have become experts at overcoming the technical and operational problems that can stand in the way of OTT monetization. Their value to media and entertainment grows by the year, and certification provides their customers with the assurance that they can give high-value content the treatment it deserves.

What does that assurance look like? More in our next installment. Or visit www.worldteleport.org/certification for details. 

Tags:  certification  tier 4 

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