A Billion Dollar Industry in Less Than 10 Years

The satellite industry is full of potential growth markets for operators and technology vendors to exploit. Despite the onset of fiber and wireless networks, the satellite industry appears in good health in both established markets, as well as new markets that are emerging.

Oil and gas has long been a strong vertical market for the industry, given the needs for communication and data services in remote areas. Satellite consultancy NSR recently noted that it expects the oil and gas sector’s total satcom retail revenues to grow from $660 million in 2011 to more than $1.1 billion by 2021 — almost doubling its revenue in less than 10 years.

It is always a good sign when an industry can produce a billion-dollar industry within itself, and while oil and gas companies are undoubtedly looking to use a number of different technologies to meet their communications needs, satellite is still a very important part of the equation.

This month, we discuss the role of the satellite industry as oil companies start to drill for shale gas both in the United States and beyond. Our parent company, Access Intelligence, has just launched a new two-day event in Pittsburgh called Shalecomm. The event, which took place April 10-11, looks at this rising market for oil and gas companies, as well as the opportunities for satellite companies to aid their efforts.

Satellite is also more than holding its own in Europe’s video markets. In research commissioned by SES, the operator noted that satellite has pulled ahead of terrestrial and cable reception to become the leading TV infrastructure in Europe, with approximately 84 million households on the continent equipped with satellite DTH as their primary TV reception mode. The report said the main growth markets for satellite in 2011 were the United Kingdom, Germany, Ukraine, Poland and Italy, although, critically, you can hardly describe the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany as up-and-coming markets.

Sectors such as oil and gas, in-flight connectivity, cellular backhaul and broadband, as well as good old pay-TV have plenty of legs still in them, and with skillful business plans, satellite companies can exploit and thrive in this new environment. NSR’s and SES’s latest research shows that there is plenty of growth to be had, and perhaps more importantly that it is not just a question of the technology, but also of serving customer needs — something the satellite industry is more aware of than ever. Whether you are a pay-TV operator or an oil and gas company, using satellite is often the key to success. It is also good to know that despite this IP revolution that has taken place, satellite technology is far from marginalized and is often integrated as a key component of hybrid infrastructure.

Speaking of technology, we have four executives from the biggest FSS operators in the world taking part in an exclusive roundtable this month. They will be talking about where they are investing in technologies, current game changers and what they look for from technology vendors as they put up their satellites. There certainly were a lot of discussions at SATELLITE 2012 on a range of technologies from electric satellites to hosted payloads and Ka-band. This roundtable provides some fascinating insights into the minds of those in this sector, and how they evaluate the myriad of technology options they now have available. The satellite industry moves at quite a pace, and companies like Boeing and SpaceX are really looking to shake things up with new launch and manufacturing options. Strong competition and technology innovations should ensure a healthy future for the industry.

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