Forecast International projects the commercial communications satellite market will be worth $57.7 billion from 2013-2022.
According to its “The Market for Commercial Communications Satellites” study, which tracks 45 satellite production programs, 440 individual communications satellites are expected to be produced during that timeframe.
According to the study, society’s demand for data and connectivity continues to expand, with communications satellites just one industry growing to meet this demand. Bill Ostrove, Forecast International aerospace systems analyst and author of the study, says, “As market demand for data-intensive applications, such as high-definition video and broadband Internet, grows, so will the need for technologies to form the backbone of global networks.”
Growth is especially apparent in developing markets, such as Latin America and the Middle East. The study points out that these areas are not saturated with terrestrial cable and fiber-optic networks.
Satellite has also been a popular solution for mobile broadband applications. According to Ostrove, “Airlines such as United, Southwest, and JetBlue plan to have Wi-Fi on their entire fleets of aircraft in the future. Ka-band satellites will be the primary suppliers of the bandwidth needed to provide in-air broadband Internet connections.” Ship operators are also using satellite capacity to increase availability of broadband Internet.
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.
Ostrove notes that government services remains an important market for satellite services. “Because governments cannot meet their communications needs entirely with their own satellite fleets, they must turn to commercial satellite operators for additional capacity. The reduction in government spending (as governments around the world attempt to balance budgets) will continue this reliance on commercial satellites.”
While the industry remains strong, there are some challenges going forward. Some satellite operators are nearing an end to major capital expenditure programs, potentially reducing the demand for new satellites. However, these downward pressures should be mitigated, at least somewhat, by the continued growth in demand for satellite services and the entry into the market of new national satellite operators.
Top manufacturers in the commercial communications satellite industry include Space Systems/Loral, Thales Alenia Space, EADS Astrium, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.