IBC2019 is almost here. Between now and then Radio World will conduct several short Q&As with manufacturers about their plans and offerings, to help you get the most out of the big annual trade show. Gustavo Robles is sales director for AEQ.
Radio World: How has business been for the company since IBC2018?
Gustavo Robles: The last year has been a very positive for the company. We completed many projects in 2018 and have followed path in 2019. Furthermore, we have also signed contracts in new markets such as Papua, Senegal and Costa Rica. As a result, AEQ equipment is now present in more than 95 different countries. In 2019 we are celebrating our 40th anniversary and this is a great reward after many years of international activity. To celebrate our birthday, we modernized our logo and website. We’ll also be celebrating it in Amsterdam with all our friends, partners, customers and distributors who visit us at the annual event.
Radio World: What are you hearing from your customers about their business outlook this year? In what areas should we expect growth or the most interesting projects?
Robles: Not all of the geographical areas we currently work in have the same economic or political situation, nor are they at the same level of development. But as a general guideline, customers are focusing on digital renewal and where possible always seek to have AoIP as a tool for broadcast facilities. We’re increasingly seeing the use of AoIP in projects. This shows how the technology is becoming increasingly popular despite the socio-economic or political situation of a specific country. In addition, most of our projects include integration of our clients’ equipment and systems. We offer a wide range of products, such as mixing consoles, audio codecs, automation systems and intercoms. And whenever the application calls for it, our customers ask us to interconnect and integrate as much equipment as possible. This has been a pleasure for us since it’s an area where our company excels. We produce lots of equipment and we endeavor to integrate our solutions with the highest of standards. This is because we believe this has a huge impact on the overall installation, operation and future growth of our clients’ radio studios.
Radio World: Stepping away from your particular segment, what is your feeling for the overall health of the radio industry?
Robles: It’s clear that the most talked about technologies are always those associated with the world of IP and video, especially OTT, streaming, VOD, 4K and 8K, etc. But since radio’s creation, the medium has always struggled and fought for its space among consumers, and in our opinion it has done so with great success. Evidently, early radio has little to do with current radio, but its essence remains the same: A communicator in front of a microphone with listeners on the other side of the communication channel. Based on that foundation, we have recently added more applications (remote control, internet, podcast, visual radio) to fit the changing needs. But content remains at the heart of the radio. As a business, AEQ has links within the radio and television world. We can tell that the future of radio is relatively strong, as demonstrated by the growing number of radio installations we have completed, and our ever-increasing customer base.
Radio World: AEQ has been active in the manufacture of broadcast studio gear for 40 years. What’s the biggest problem or challenge facing users in this segment right now?
Robles: System integration, particularly with the most recent generation of radio gear that uses advanced IP technology. For the digital part, it seems that AES3 is a standard nobody discusses, or MADi fiber optics like AES10. But in the IP world there are still many names and acronyms that appear to confuse end users. And, many questions remain. Proprietary Solutions? Open standards? which will be imposed? Are the seconds mature? Is it worth moving toward relative technological uncertainty with this IP mode, or is it necessary to wait a little longer? Our commitment is clear and we demonstrate this with each project, IP technology has arrived and it will stay as it provides better performance, greater simplicity of installation, increased flexibility of operation. And more of this type of equipment is available on the market each day. There is still a long way to go, but at AEQ we believe that no major radio project today should consider moving forward without having the IP part as its core.
Radio World: What new goodies will your company be showing? Why should attendees visit your booth?
Robles: This year on stand 8.C55 we’ll feature our new AEQ ATRIUM large digital audio console and our XPLORER wireless intercom beltpack. Both of these will be shown for the first time at the European exhibition and will be fully operational at the disposal of visitors who want to explore and use them. Also, on Sunday at 3 p.m. we’ll have our typical Spanish party at our booth, where we’ll have Spanish music, wine and Spanish food. We usually have about 100 attendees but there is always room for more!
Radio World: What do you anticipate will be the most significant technology trend at IBC2019?
Robles: In the world of radio we think that’ll be the convergence of many proprietary AoIP technologies finally present on the market. AES67 is one clear and unequivocal path forward. Another trend is that of visual radio. It’s increasingly clear that more stations want to add the visual aspect to radio. Finally, for the communications segment, we believe that the arrival of 5G will be an essential new change in the way we understand outdoor radio. For TV, from our humble point of view and with the reference of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the horizon, we believe that 8K and immersive sound will be a hot topic.
Radio World: How do your sales and marketing efforts differ from region to region?
Robles: Currently AEQ products can be found in more than 95 different countries through our own offices in Europe, America and Asia, or through our 145 dealers and distributors. There is no unique way to publicize our news or reach customers and projects. In general, we place a lot of importance on our physical presence at shows like NAB, IBC, BroadcastAsia and CABSAT. To give you an idea, last year 2018 we participated in 23 events! We also think it’s important to have a presence in broadcast trade publications and platforms and we also publish or own newsletter. In addition, social networks are extremely important for us, as is WhatsApp and skype. However, there is nothing like being on the ground to meet and discuss with our clients and partners face to face. This allows them to discover our new products and upgrades and to study the various possibilities for collaboration.
Radio World: Will you be attending any sessions or looking forward to any events?
Robles: Of course, IBC is the most important conference in European broadcast industry and one of the most important worldwide. It’s a spectacular meeting point for all the actors in this industry — manufacturers, integrators, broadcasters, consultants, distributors, etc. Obviously, for a manufacturer of broadcast gear, like us, the first objective of the event is to be able to see all our partners and analyze our competition in person as many new projects are usually announced. But I always block a couple days or at least a whole morning to attend conferences at the RAI convention center or post-show events in the city. It’s a very good opportunity to know where the sector is going for both our customers and our competitors.
Radio World: You’re a show veteran, how has the show changed since your first visit?
Robles: The informatics and broadcast at the beginning of my professional career were very different from today. Now they are now fully integrated whereas this wasn’t the case before. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find any application, client, or product where both fields are not integrated. This has greatly enriched the sector and offers great opportunities for future growth and development. What will be coming our way this time around? As always at the IBC there is something that surprises me and in the long run it can evolve into a major trend. So, we always walk in with open minds and eyes to spot these potential future developments. Also, the exhibition seems to expand each year with the organizers adding more halls to the show floor.
Radio World: What’s your favorite thing about this show?
Robles: I live near the AEQ headquarters in Madrid so attending an exhibition in the Netherlands (compared to other broadcast shows in destinations like Las Vegas for example) makes me feel like I’m almost at home, specially with no jetlag. But… I must admit that for someone like me quite Mediterranean, the climate is not always ideal. Having said that, Amsterdam is an excellent host city that has always welcomes IBC delegates, and the RAI is a very good convention center.