June 26, 2012

FI predicts $53 billion COMSAT market over next 10 years

Forecast International projects that the commercial communications satellite market will be worth $52.7 billion from 2012-2021.

According to its “The Market for Commercial Communications Satellites” study, which tracks some 49 satellite production programs, 419 individual communications satellites will be produced during that timeframe.

According to the study, high-speed broadband Internet, digital television and video broadcasting, and government services are currently major areas of growth for the commercial communications satellite industry.

The analysis notes that demand will be especially strong in developing markets such as Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia. William Ostrove, Forecast International space systems analyst and author of the study, said that a lack of terrestrial networks and the rapid growth in demand for communications services in these areas of the world is driving this demand.

Demand for Broadband Internet by satellite operators is particularly acute in rural areas, where high-speed Internet demand isn’t high enough to justify the cost of laying miles of cable. Satellites are also useful for increasing connectivity for mobile applications.

According to Ostrove, “Airlines such as United, Southwest and JetBlue plan to equip their entire fleets with Wi-Fi in the future. Ka-band satellites will be a primary supplier of the bandwidth needed to provide in-air broadband Internet connections.”

Digital television is another market that is driving satellite service growth. This is especially true in areas of the world where cable and fiber-optic line penetration is low, such as Eastern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. And even where cable providers do exist, such as in Europe, satellite operators have been successful, providing television to 84 million homes on the continent.

Governments are increasingly employing the services of commercial satellite operators as well. Rather than purchasing new satellites, governments are turning to commercial operators, often deploying their communication packages aboard commercial satellites under a scheme known as hosted payloads.

The top manufacturers in the commercial communications satellite industry during the next 10 years will be Space Systems/Loral, Thales Alenia Space, EADS Astrium, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

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