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Things Are Looking Up for Broadband Satellite

Nov. 22, 2021
Wide regions across the globe still lack internet access, but implementing a satellite internet service could finally open the doors to cyberspace for many.

Here in the wealthy western (a.k.a. “first”) world, we take our ubiquitous connectivity for granted. Cellular and Wi-Fi coverage blanket our homes and offices. Internet, email, texting, and voice calling is accessible anywhere we go.

Thus, it can be mind-boggling to learn that, according to a recent market study by research/competitive-intelligence firm Fact.MR, nearly four in ten people globally do not have access to the internet. Large portions of the unconnected live in rural areas, where harsh geographic realities can make the establishment of broadband infrastructure very difficult and extremely costly.

This is where broadband satellite communications come into the picture—and in a big way. Fact.MR’s study determined that the satellite internet market is expected to exceed $6 billion by 2031. With high-tech entrepreneurs becoming enmeshed in a privatized space race, these players will spearhead a drive to bring advanced and highly efficient satellite broadband to market.

The enormous gap in internet penetration exists between various countries and economic sectors. Lack of an established customer base in these rural areas of the world compounds the problem. Developing nations and small island nations also suffer with this dearth of connectivity.

By the way, some of the rural areas without reliable high-speed internet access are in the United States of America. An article from earlier this year on AppleInsider.com reveals that broadband penetration and speed falls far short of what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would have us believe. In large swaths of the U.S., less than 15% of people use the internet at download speeds of at least 25 Mb/s, which is how the FCC defines high-speed internet.

The beauty of satellite internet is that it doesn’t require the laying of large cables to deliver data. It will make broadband far more accessible to the unconnected, or slowly connected, masses. To that end, the setup cost for a satellite internet service is comparatively less and comes with a longer lifecycle.

Positioning of satellites in lower orbit is mitigating the problem of latency. For instance, satellites that are in orbit at around 600 km from the Earth’s surface have lower latency as compared to those in higher orbits. Starlink broadband services claim to provide latency as low as 20 ms. On the other hand, visibility of satellites with the naked eye due to their placement in lower orbit is a point of concern, with prominent companies working on the same.

Some of the key points from Fact.MR’s study:

  • Satellite internet revenue will soar 2.2X from 2021 to 2031, reaching nearly $6 billion by 2031.
  • Global market revenue is expected to total $3.5 billion in 2021.
  • Demand for satellite internet will likely grow due to its utilization in the deployment of 5G and IoT technology.
  • Residential satellites are likely to increase their share to reach nearly 55% by 2031 as compared to 2020.

Launching a satellite internet service for a wide spectrum of users, such as for residential use, all-level enterprises, federal governments, and so on, should fetch more revenue. For instance, comparing Telesat with Starlink, the former’s business model aims at delivering services to only government clients and B2B customers, whereas the latter seeks to provide services to everyone across the globe.

Starlink has started its beta-version testing and the service will be for commercial purposes. Similarly, the company is in talks with the U.S. Department of Defense for the adoption of its services.

About the Author

David Maliniak | Executive Editor, Microwaves & RF

I am Executive Editor of Microwaves & RF, an all-digital publication that broadly covers all aspects of wireless communications. More particularly, we're keeping a close eye on technologies in the consumer-oriented 5G, 6G, IoT, M2M, and V2X markets, in which much of the wireless market's growth will occur in this decade and beyond. I work with a great team of editors to provide engineers, developers, and technical managers with interesting and useful articles and videos on a regular basis. Check out our free newsletters to see the latest content.

You can send press releases for new products for possible coverage on the website. I am also interested in receiving contributed articles for publishing on our website. Use our contributor's packet, in which you'll find an article template and lots more useful information on how to properly prepare content for us, and send to me along with a signed release form. 

About me:

In his long career in the B2B electronics-industry media, David Maliniak has held editorial roles as both generalist and specialist. As Components Editor and, later, as Editor in Chief of EE Product News, David gained breadth of experience in covering the industry at large. In serving as EDA/Test and Measurement Technology Editor at Electronic Design, he developed deep insight into those complex areas of technology. Most recently, David worked in technical marketing communications at Teledyne LeCroy, leaving to rejoin the EOEM B2B publishing world in January 2020. David earned a B.A. in journalism at New York University.

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