Ka-Band Providers Must Adapt To Differing Regulations Around Globe

By , | June 5, 2006 | Feature, Telecom

Satellite operators have enough Ka-band capacity to meet market demand, but new Ka-band service startups across the globe are faced with a lack of demand when it comes to serving each distinct market.

North America remains the main user of Ka-band capacity, analysts said, but

According to Patrick French, regional director, Europe and senior analyst at Northern Sky Research, Ka-band is a non-starter outside North America. He points to large amounts of unused Ka-band capacity in Europe and Japan.

"In the U.S. DBS market, the only reason we are seeing Ka-band video is the fact that the supply of Ku-band capacity is too limited to handle the immense load of local HDTV channels," said French. "Elsewhere in the world, there are no local HDTV channels, only national HDTV channels. Ka-band for enterprise VSAT is coming but not before there is a greater availability of terminals. But even if this situation changes, the enterprise market will be looking for more incentives before it migrates from its established Ku-band networks in any meaningful way," he said.

Asia and Europe have had Ka-band capacity on orbit for several years in "testing" mode, but there has not been any real traction on the demand side, said Eileen McGowan, manager of FCCfilings.com at Futron Corp., but consumer interest is lacking even with new offerings.

"Even IPStar’s Ka-band is used only for gateway communications and not for customer service links," McGowen said. "In North America, however, there has been much more activity with various satellite operators attempting to leverage Ka-band for both video and data use. The current FCC licensees for Ka-band are the big video providers: DirecTV, Echostar, Hughes Communications, Intelsat and SES Americom. The FCC recently granted contactMEO a license for its hybrid GEO/HEO (Highly Elliptical Orbit) system that is designed to offer global broadband coverage, in particular to Alaska and other remote polar and ocean regions. Northrop Grumman’s application for a nearly identical system is still pending before the Commission."

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