NAB 2017

NAB Reflections: Aldea CEO Lionel Bentolila on Embracing the Cloud, Plans for 2018

The global transmission/distribution provider looks to upcoming Olympics, World Cup

Coming off successful live coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio for a wide variety of global clients, Aldea is diving head first into preparations for upcoming international sports events like the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, and the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

But first, Aldea stopped by NAB 2017 to meet with clients and discuss its end-to-end global transmission and content-distribution services and extensive fiber-based network with points-of-presence (PoPs) across 29 major cities in 20 countries across the Americas and Europe. The company offers a range of full-time, event, and occasional-use sports-distribution services — HD and 4K, audio, data connectivity — and live streaming for second-screen applications.

SVG caught up with Aldea CEO Lionel Bentolila at NAB 2017 to discuss upcoming projects, what clients are requesting from the company, and why having a presence at the NAB Show each year is so important.

Why is it important for Aldea to have a presence at the NAB Show?
NAB is one of our largest shows, so we’re present here because of our presence in America. With customers from Canada to Latin America, Mexico, the United States, it’s a good opportunity for us to meet our [North American] clients, as well as partners and clients that come from Europe and, in some cases, Asia. NAB is so large that this is the place to be, and, traditionally, we’ve always been here.

Are you highlighting any particular services this year?
I think what characterizes Aldea is essentially the end-to-end capability that we have. We do more and more events, so we can take any feed from any event location, and then we can distribute it globally. One of the things that we’ve been adding the past 18 months is capabilities in the cloud. Now we have transcoding services in the cloud, so we can provide an end-to-end solution for contribution that includes fiber, that includes satellite, that includes on-the-cloud services and connections to [all the main] platforms.

Are cloud capabilities something that your clients were looking for?
I think, more and more, we’re looking at making our technologies more efficient. We have about 20 different PoPs that we can have a really good service in the Americas and in Europe as well, so we’re looking at technologies that can ride on those PoPs that are already there. Many clients can go through that as a complement to the services that we offer them today in distribution. I think clients are recognizing the capability of Aldea to provide an end-to-end service. In some cases, we even have to include production. So we do the production, we do contribution, we do the satellite piece, we do the fiber piece, and now we’re doing the streaming piece as well.

Are there any other industry trends that you’re seeing where you feel that Aldea shines?
I think where we’re shining is the end-to-end capability of doing global events. It doesn’t matter whether they’re small or large. We have some events that are one-day events, others are one week, others are as large as Olympics or the upcoming Russia World Cup. I think where Aldea is shining is, basically, we’re very close to what our customers are requiring. We’re quite flexible to provide very high-quality solutions and, at the same time, fit into today’s budgets. I think we provide pretty good value for all the services that they’re asking for. And what they’re looking for is integration and the attention to detail that we can put together, that we can put in any event.

You mentioned the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Are there any other big sports events that you’re particularly excited to be a part of?
There is the World Cup, there is a Confederation Cup coming up in Russia. Obviously, you have the Olympics in PyeongChang in Korea; we’re active at that. We have some other events in Europe that we’re going to be covering; we have some events in New Zealand. … It’s really all over the place. In addition, [we have] the day-to-day events that we’ve covering in Latin America, Chile, Canada, and so on. The other thing that were looking at obviously is 4K and how we’re going to integrate that into the network, so we’re looking at technology. Technology is starting to be there in a cost-effective compact way.