[Satellite News 03-08-12] The number of satellite communications terminals deployed in the global maritime market will nearly double in the next decade with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7 percent, according to a Euroconsult forecast report issued March 8.
The report, “Maritime Telecom Solutions by Satellite, Global Market Analysis & Forecasts,” shows that while MSS terminals are still expected to account for the majority of terminals deployed in the decade, VSAT service providers should gain significant revenue share in the merchant shipping, fishing, passenger ship, leisure vessel, offshore and government segments.
Euroconsult Senior Consultant Wei Li studied the breakdown between MSS applications and VSAT frequency bands. “Onboard bandwidth requirements keep growing, driving the maritime market in a direction quite beneficial to satellite communications. Fully integrated IP applications providing Internet access, audio and video streaming, and the integration of ships into corporate networks generate significant capacity demand at sea,” Li wrote the in report.
The number of terminals used for global maritime satellite communications grew about 6 percent in 2011, according to Euroconsult, while revenues at the satellite operator level increased by more than 7 percent. Li said the total size of the maritime market reached about 317,000 active terminals in 2011 that generated more than $1.4 billion in revenues at the service provider level. “Established MSS services and especially the emerging VSAT business contributed to the overall growth of the maritime satellite communications market.”
The proliferation of new Ka-band maritime services, with faster upload and download speeds compared to both traditional VSAT or MSS platforms, could increase the rate of the maritime market’s expansion. MSS operator Inmarsat has been preparing to both launch its constellation of three Ka-band satellites and commence operations by either 2014 or 2015.
Inmarsat’s main competitor Iridium received high marks from Raymond James Analyst Chris Quilty for the new products and technology it plans to bring to the maritime market, including the Iridium Extreme handset and Wi-Fi AxcessPoint. “These products should contribute more fully to Iridium’s growth in 2012,” Quilty said in a report issued March 7. “Iridium is outpacing the competition with new products and services, including a commercial push-to-talk service, aviation connectivity, a Wi-Fi access point, consumer tacking devices, and new low-cost modems. The company’s product rollouts and adoption during the next 12 months should lead to accelerated growth in 2013.”
Li projected that while the VSAT market will account for the majority of satellite-based maritime communications revenues by 2021, the maritime market itself will not grow as rapidly as it has in recent years. “The expected slowdown of revenue growth is mainly due to decreasing airtime unit and equipment prices with the overall improvement of technology,” said Li.