LONG BEACH, Calif. — The company Netskrt Systems, founded in 2017, offers an edge Content Delivery Network (eCDN) to meet in-flight video streaming demand. The service is already deployed in the U.K. by some railway operators. Netskrt’s solution combines cloud-based machine learning with network-aware edge caching.
Netskrt and Thales announced a partnership at the APEX Expo in October. They are working together to offer in-flight video streaming services for airlines, using edge caching technologies to significantly reduce internet bandwidth required to support high quality streaming.
At APEX, Siegfried Luft, Co-Founder, President, and CEO of Netskrt, talked with Avionics International in detail about the company, their partnership with Thales, and entry into the in-flight connectivity and entertainment (IFC/IFE) industry. Check out our question-and-answer session with Netskrt’s CEO below.
Avionics International: Can you share some background information about the company?
Siegfried Luft: Consumers are switching from cable TV subscriptions to direct-to-consumer video streaming services like Amazon Prime, Disney, and online streaming apps from traditional TV stations. The general video distribution industry is about a $300 billion annual industry; that’s all moving to direct-to-consumer, which has gained about $80 billion of this market. A recent statistic from Verizon showed that their linear television subscribers dropped 26% in 2021.
But not all internet connections are sized to handle high customer demand for streaming video. Streaming has a big impact on networks, and in many places, such as on airplanes, simply increasing the bandwidth isn’t a viable or affordable option.
We asked ourselves, “Can we take the technology that has been used to scale streaming delivery on the internet and bring it to these difficult to reach places?”
At the same time, content providers are looking at how to grow their business. We’re hearing content owners starting to measure engagement hours. That makes reaching airline passengers an interesting market for them. Transportation became an obvious target for us, and while we initially started looking at rail, it was clear this would be an important solution for airlines.
What is the current focus at Netskrt?
Siegfried Luft: We’re focused on three market areas that all use essentially the same solution, and all expand market access for content owners: airlines, rail operators, and remote/rural internet service providers. The Netskrt eCDN is in use by passenger rail operators in the U.K. right now and we’re working with Thales, one of the leading providers of in-flight entertainment systems, to embed Netskrt eCDN in their IFC and IFE solutions for airlines. We are bringing multiple like-minded markets together.
What are some of Netskrt’s competitive advantages?
Luft: We have a fair amount of intellectual property around being aware that you’re in a poorly connected environment. Most CDNs operate on the basis of, “I have a good connection, but I can make it better.” We start with a less dependable connection, where you can’t make the same assumptions. We built a lot of technology around how to make sure the user experience remains solid regardless of the status of the connection. That’s why we’re quite a bit different than any other CDN out there.
What are some of the challenges facing the company?
Luft: When an airline or a railway rolls out a new service, to really take advantage of it, they want to make it available across as much of their fleet as possible, as quickly as possible. To meet the challenges of this kind of deployment, we need to work with really capable partners. We’ve been working together with Thales for over a year and a half now but just announced the agreement. Having a partner like Thales who is a leader in in-flight entertainment systems, really understands what airlines need, and has the global team to support airlines will allow us to deliver solid video streaming solutions to airlines.
How will Netskrt evolve in the long-term?
Luft: There’s a lot of areas where we see opportunity. In the short term, we’ll be focusing on transportation in general and other hard to reach locations, such as remote or rural communities. From there, the opportunity is to start looking at the more traditional CDN markets, simply because of the technology we have. If it works small, it works at the large scale as well.
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