IABM Member Speak – Village Island

by Mr. Michael Van Dorpe, President of Village Island
Original Press release – IABM Journal

IABM Journal

What is the history of Village Island? What prompted you to set up in Japan?

In 2005, after eight years of experience in the broadcast industry where I learned to manage complex situations and deploy large headend systems in a multi-cultural environment with a bunch of engineers I founded Village Island.
Our earlier experiences forced us to work with very short term vision and short term relations with partners. We strongly believed there was a better way to do things based on long term and quality relationships with all stakeholders: customers, suppliers, partners and even competitors.

The broadcast industry really is a village – hence our name. And we aim to build quality relationships within it thanks to expertise and honesty. About why setting up in Japan – why not? I was in Japan when I created my company.
The industry here is always challenging, not least in new formats like HD, 4k, 8k and more. It is also a wonderful OEM market. Consequently a very good place to start a business if you know the local culture and you are ready to adapt.

What does Village Island do? Why do you offer your own products as well as those from western manufacturers?

We distribute broadcast equipment and technologies, and development of our own products and solutions. This complementarity comes from the gap between what our partners from Europe and US are offering and what our customers need as a final solution. The gap may be due to differences between standards, practices,habits, languages, controls, or simply the mentality to resolve problem.

We are bridging this gap with our own engineering force, and we have our own brand of products based on the open and modular software platform, the Village Flow for digital television distribution.

How responsive are broadcasters in Japan to products from outside the country?

Japanese customers always show a great interest for all new technologies and concepts from around the world, but always challenge them to their limits. This is a difficult ride for companies who cannot adapt themselves easily.

How far advanced is the transition to digital broadcasting in south-east Asia?

South-east Asia is a very large and disparate region, with many places still in process of transiting from analogue to digital. Some countries, like Malaysia, seem to be struggling to finalise their spectrum planning. Singapore (smaller and more centralised) is almost done; but other countries seem far from any transition.

Some isolated regions of countries may remain without digital terrestrial for a very long time and the hybrid combination of satellite plus terrestrial seems to be the only solution. Satellite is also a cheap and efficient way to distribute digital TV toward very distant terrestrial transmitters.

The region has a mix of ISDB-T and DVB-T/T2 countries which is why Village Island has long and practical experience of both. Some countries are making big leaps in technology, for example Thailand which has gone from analogue to H.264 over DVB-T2.

How much support do you need to give your customers, helping them understand the benefits and possibilities of a digital broadcasting system?

In general our customers understand well the benefits and possibilities of digital broadcasting, but it is true that we are spending a higher amount of our resources demonstrating, accompanying and supporting our customers through their deployments.

Because of our long term approach this is never a problem for us, and our customers recognise this investment and the value of working with us. We are Asians based in Asia, and we offer a constant and reliable interface of engineering and communication to our customers, independent of short term profits.

What are the key issues for broadcasters in south-east Asia at present? Is the industry expanding?

The most important issue is the completion of spectrum and network planning. The industry in this part of the world is expanding. Our business in South-East Asia region increases by 50% each year.

Is there real interest in higher resolution systems like 4k and NHK’s Super Hi-Vision? Are broadcasters investing in these new technologies?

Compared to the 3D flop we can say that 4k is a real thing. Our sales are already proving this. It is not just real business in Japan and Korea, but also getting strong interest from our customers from all countries.
The user cases are covering new generation broadcast over satellite, cable and IP, but interestingly finding new applications with public viewing, digital signage and various video transmissions.

4k is a reality. In Japan, a 4k, 60p, 10-bit satellite channel has been launched in time for the coming World Cup. 8K is also in train and makes sense. NHK is pushing the industry forward, and has shown 8k transmission over a single terrestrial ISDB-T channel. This evolution worked with HD in the past, and there is no reason to doubt it will work again.

How is Village Island changing to meet new challenges in its market?

Village Island is also a living object, continuously adopting to its environment. For example, six months ago we responded to a customer request for a realtime, 4k, 60p, 10-bit, single-tile HEVC decoder. Today there are still no validated and released hardware products achieving this, but a few months before the soccer world cup, our customer cannot wait.

Thanks to our network of worldwide partners, we could easily figure out the necessary bricks to achieve this and although it took us several months we were able to provide the integration and low level programming to make it work.

Visit Village Island for more information.

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