Connectivity, Digital Experiences

How Satellite Multicasting Supports Retail Networking Needs

January 2023
Sagenet Blog Satellite Multicast

Retail organizations with stores spread across broad geographic locations have long used satellite communications to provide redundant connectivity in the event of technical glitches, human error or natural disasters that could compromise terrestrial networks and take stores offline. While that is an essential capability, satellite systems create tremendous value for retailers through a variety of other critical benefits.

In addition to its role in business continuity and disaster recovery strategies, satellite provides the critical point-of-sale (POS) connectivity that rural and remote stores require in order to validate and process credit card transactions in real time. It also allows retail organizations to push policy updates, promotions and other corporate information to remote locations, and is an effective way to distribute media for menu boards and digital signage. Additionally, satellite supports mobile POS transactions and extends connectivity to pop-up stores and special events such as festivals, seminars and sporting events.

An often-overlooked but extremely important benefit is support for IP multicasting. A resource-efficient technique that enables one-to-many and many-to-many communications over IP networks, multicasting is proven to conserve bandwidth, improve network performance and reduce monthly costs.

Concurrent Connections

IP networks predominantly operate on a unicast or point-to-point basis, which means that data is transmitted from a single source to a single destination. Meanwhile, satellite Internet with multicasting capabilities can simultaneously serve up to 5,000 separate communication channels.

A recent report illustrates the benefit. A retail organization needed to send an antivirus update with a file size of 170MB to 1,000 stores over 1.5Mbps links. To minimize business disruption, the update would be scheduled to run between midnight and 6 a.m. The organization determined it would take 52 days to complete 1,000 separate updates with unicast transmissions. However, it would only take 20 minutes to send the update to all 1,000 stores simultaneously with a multicast transmission.

Beyond the obvious time-to-benefit advantages, multicasting produces significant economies of scale over unicast. In the example cited above, unicast delivery would require bandwidth for 1,000 separate transmissions. In addition to reducing bandwidth requirements, multicasting cuts costs by decreasing processor loads and CPU usage.

Digital Signage Support

More efficient use of network resources allows retailers to move very large workloads such as application, operating system and database updates across satellite networks without impacting Quality of Service. Multicasting is also an extremely effective way to distribute large files, such as inventory, security, promotions and other digital subject matter to some, or all, locations. One-to-many distribution is particularly efficient for streaming live video for all-hands events such as company meetings, employee training, product launches, analyst conferences and sales seminars.

Satellite multicast is also ideally suited for delivering content to growing numbers of retail digital signage systems. Standalone signage systems require a content server running software that organizes, schedules and delivers content to a media player. Multicasting eliminates the need to have content servers and players connected to every display, and helps ensure consistent messaging across all locations.

SageNet’s VSAT satellite platform, SkyEdge II-c, supports multicast content delivery for multisite retail environments. It is an efficient and cost-effective way to deliver bandwidth-intensive content such as video, audio and system upgrades to widely dispersed stores. Contact us to learn more.

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