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NSR Says 2013 Represents Landmark Year for Satellite Broadband Access

By Mark Holmes | November 14, 2013

[Via Satellite 11-13-13] NSR is releasing its next “Broadband Satellite Markets” report, which looks at the state of satellite broadband around the world. The report will give updates on what is considered a key market vertical for satellite.

Patrick French, senior analyst, NSR, told Via Satellite that while the broadband access market has grown slower than predicted three years ago, 2013 could be a landmark year in terms of industry performance.

“There were about 1.2 million satellite broadband access subscribers in North America as of the end of 2012. That is a net increase over 2011 of about 130,000 subscribers. If you go back another year, the net increase from 2010 to 2011 was only 11,000. However, that year was slow because service providers were intentionally slowing growth because of capacity constraints on WildBlue 1 and Spaceway 3,” he said. “It is now looking like for year-end 2013, there might be as much as a 300,000 net subscriber increase over 2012. This will be the best the industry has ever done in one year and it shows what a difference a year can make.”

However, while this year represents a significant ramp-up in performance, French admitted the market has taken some time to develop. “NSR has always believed in the satellite broadband access market. Nonetheless, these markets perhaps take a bit longer to develop than we expect them to. If I look at our numbers from three years ago, and compare them to today, they are running behind. So, yes, it does take time and effort. But, NSR maintains there is real potential for the satellite broadband access market in the long-term.”

While the success of Hughes and ViaSat in North America has been a boon for the satellite industry, the big question is whether success can be replicated in other parts of the world. French highlighted Australia where he says NBN Co is likely to hits its number of contracted site installs for their Interim Satellite Service in early 2014.

“The original May 2011 contract called for options of up to 48,000 sites to be shipped over five years. This roll rate is more than 12 months ahead of schedule and only for the interim service and does not include the two new NBN Co HTS satellites for the Long Term Satellite Service,” he added.

Australia and the United States have long been touted as great examples of the potential for satellite broadband, but French is still optimistic that there is potential in other areas of the world.

“NSR still believes in the Western European market, but not on a scale as large as North America. Once the industry pulls the various elements together, it stands to do quite well even in Western Europe,” he said. “The same is true for the YahClick service in the Middle East and Africa, which may have been slower than initially thought in terms of uptake, but it has only been one year in service. It took the North American market the better part of 10 years to get to where it is today. The indications from the United States, Canada and Australia showcase the potential for other regions in the world.”