SIA Report: Satellite Industry Fares Well Against Tough Economy in 2009

By | June 8, 2010 | Feature

[Satellite News 06-08-10] Consistent with the recovering global economy, the Satellite Industry Association’s (SIA) “State of the Satellite Industry Report,” released June 8, showed continued growth across all satellite sectors in 2009, with revenues increasing 11.7 percent year-over-year.
    The report, compiled by analysis firm Futron Corp., revealed encouraging statistics for satellite investors, highlighted by 29 percent growth in the manufacturing sector over 2008. Satellite manufacturing upped its productivity in 2009 by completing greater numbers of high-value spacecraft, driven by a surge of demand in the government sector. The value of commercially procured government satellites launched in 2009 was $9.8 billion, up from $5.3 billion in 2008
    The satellite services sector, which has seen a drop-off in consumer subscription growth due to tightening budgets and extending cost-cutting measures from its customers, turned in a surprising 11 percent increase in revenues led by contributions from satellite TV providers, with DBS/DTH representing three-quarters of the sector’s total revenues in 2009.
   Mobile data services, which now represent three-quarters of all mobile satellite services, enjoyed a 13 percent revenues growth, offsetting 23 percent losses from mobile voice services.
   Transponder agreement revenues, the core of the fixed satellite services sector, increased from $10.2 billion in 2008 to $11 billion in 2009 — a 7.8 percent growth rate, exceeding the 6 percent growth posted from 2007 to 2008.
   The launch industry enjoyed an active and prosperous year with 11 more orbital launches and an 18 percent revenue increase from 2008 to 2009. Ground equipment revenues also grew by 8 percent in 2009, driven by slower but steady growth in both consumer and network equipment deliveries in the third quarter.
   Rural broadband rollouts around the world also gave the satellite industry a considerable boost. Broadband satellite Internet revenues reached $1 billion globally. The United States constituted about 70 percent of these revenues, driven by opportunities presented to the private sector in the $7 billion Broadband Stimulus Package, passed by Congress in February 2009.
   While the report showed hardly any decreased intake for the satellite industry during the year, there were still common signs of the recession’s impact on the industry. Announced commercial launch orders declined by 10 in 2009 to 35, while geosynchronous launch orders increased 25 percent to 25. Non-geosynchronous launch orders declined from 25 to 10, however, the future looks much brighter, as 41 commercial geosynchronous orbit satellite manufacturing orders were announced in 2009 for future delivery, almost double the orders announced in 2008.
   The economic slump also had an impact on satellite’s rate of growth. The industry’s 2009 growth rate of 11 percent is a drop from the 19 percent increase SIA reported from 2007 to 2008. The satellite industry also shed 14,564 jobs in 2009, which represents 5.5 percent of the total industry workforce. The ground equipment sector had the largest employment decline, losing 8,249 jobs, while the launch industry shed the least amount, with 415 net jobs lost during the year. Despite an increase in ground segment revenues, the sector’s higher job loss may have been caused by significantly lower expansion rates and higher expectations. The sector’s 8 percent growth is a sharp drop off from the 34 percent growth it experienced between 2007 and 2008.
    Satellite industry job loss was especially prevalent in the United States, where 5.5 of the total workforce was laid off in 2009, with losses seen in all four sectors.

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