Satcoms: the primary use for space assets
Over the past 50 years, use of satellite communications (satcoms) has skyrocketed to become the most important space sector domain, based on various indicators such as mass launched into orbit or revenue generated by satcom players. In the midstream, each of the top three fixed-satellite service (FSS) operators generated more than €1 billion (global market of $107 billion) in revenue. Services derived from telecommunication via satellite, such as television and internet via satellite, are among the most lucrative in the space industry.
The importance of satellite communication for the global economy
Satcoms are critical to a wide range of business, government and leisure activities. Compared to terrestrial infrastructure, satcoms provide an unmatched level of availability, coverage, confidentiality and resilience. The numerous applications derived from communication satellites provide public and private stakeholders with solutions for continuity, safety and accessibility.
Many promising markets still to be developed
The development of human activity in both urban and rural areas is resulting in a growing need for an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure. Satcoms are increasingly identified as strategic infrastructure for the development of communication networks, often interfaced with terrestrial solutions. In addition, new markets, such as M2M, in‑flight connectivity or Ultra HD, are expected to sustain the satcom market.
A market open to global competition
Historically, governments controlled the satellite telecommunication sector through public intergovernmental organisations. The sector was largely privatised in North America and Europe, and today, private operators control most of the satcom market. Although local operators are still controlled by the government in Asia, South America, the Middle East and Africa, most of the global market remains open, in contrast to the captive domestic public markets that normally exist in other segments of the space sector.
Business and technological challenges derived from a growing demand for bandwidth
The international business environment of the satellite telecommunication sector is relatively stable with a few leaders holding the majority of market shares.
However, big established players are locked in intense competition to enhance their leadership at the expense of their main competitors. Global connectivity needs are the major driver for the growing demand for bandwidth, pushing operators to expand the capacity of their satellites (e.g., by increasing the number of transponders) and to introduce technological innovations (e.g., high throughput satellites).