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SpaceX, Satellite Images and OneWeb – Year in Review

By Kendall Russell | December 18, 2017
Gwynne Shotwell at the 33rd Space Symposium.

Gwynne Shotwell at the 33rd Space Symposium. Photo: Space Foundation.

Like any year in the fast-paced satellite industry, 2017 was brimming with new innovations, earth-shaking business deals, and some competitive drama for good measure. Just in case you missed anything, here’s a wrap-up of our top 10 most read stories of the year.

1. Is This the End of DSTV’s Reign in the Nigerian Pay TV Market?

Telcom Satellite TV (TSTV) signed an agreement with Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) to introduce a new Direct-to-Home (DTH) platform for consumers in Nigeria. Nigerians seemed hopeful that TSTV would be a formidable challenger for MultiChoice Africa, which has been accused of monopolizing the African pay TV market and criticized for its pricing structure.

2. Gwynne Shotwell: Ambitious Targets Achievable This Year

In the 12 months before we interviewed SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, the company had generated some major headlines with its launch activities — for both good reasons and bad. In the wake of its high-profile launch failure in September 2016, Shotwell laid out how SpaceX planned to dust itself off and recover, as well as some of its ambitious targets for 2017 and beyond.

3. Stunning Satellite Images of the California Wildfires

Photo: NOAA.

Photo: NOAA.

Unfavorable weather conditions in Northern California led to one of the most devastating fires in the state’s history, damaging nearly 4,000 structures around the Wine Country region. As huge, swirling swaths of smoke curled off the West Coast, satellites orbiting above captured awe-inspiring images of the wildfire’s destruction.

4. Phased Array Antennas: Can They Deliver?

Satellite technology in general has made some major leaps and bounds in the last decade or so — but hardware advancements on the ground side have arguably been underappreciated. In this story, contributor Marisa Torrieri unveils the technical challenges facing the ground sector and what phased array antennas could mean for the satellite industry as a whole.

5. Beyond Ka: Supporting Future Telecommunications

As Helen Jameson points out in this story, satcom applications continue to evolve at a breakneck pace, challenging bandwidth providers to find new channels to serve their customers. With countless satellite constellations in the works, could Q- and V-band provide some breathing room for new entrants and use cases?

6. Wyler: OneWeb Ready to Solve the Ultimate Connectivity Problem

Greg Wyler

Via Satellite Editorial Director Mark Holmes likens OneWeb founder Greg Wyler to an “evangelical preacher … hellbent on his mission of connecting the world.” With OneWeb edging closer and closer to launching its broadband constellation, we explore Wyler’s motivations behind the company, the problems he hopes it will solve, and the financial challenges that caused him to leave O3b behind.

7. OTT: New Business Models Disrupting the Satellite Industry

For traditional Direct-to-Home (DTH) broadcasters, serving the cord-cutting Millennial population has proved to be a significant challenge. While many of those businesses are still in a strong position financially, one is left to wonder how they’re adapting to keep up with new competitors in the age of Netflix, Hulu and other Over-the-Top (OTT) content providers.

8. Eyes in the Sky: Satellite Images of Hurricane Harvey

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season was a real anomaly, the fifth most active and destructive season on record since 1851. Three back-to-back whoppers — Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria — accounted for the majority of the $369 billion in damages left behind. Satellites carrying optical sensors and other instruments caught a glimpse of Texas as Harvey’s massive vortex swallowed up the southern U.S. coast.

9. 5G: The Era of Convergence

Satellite and terrestrial wireless operators are sometimes considered to be age-old rivals. But that could all change with the emergence of 5G networks, which could reap major financial benefits for both sides of the telecommunications industry if they choose to collaborate instead of compete.

10. “Ludicrous and Ridiculous” – CEOs React to Intelsat’s 5G Proposal

Tom Choi, former CEO and founder of ABS. Photo: ABS.

Tom Choi, former CEO and founder of ABS. Photo: ABS.

Intelsat made waves this year when it joined together with Intel to propose a spectrum sharing paradigm between satellite and terrestrial network operators for 5G applications. While some industry thought leaders were more hesitant in their assessments of the proposal, former ABS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tom Choi didn’t mince words, dismissing the idea as “ridiculous.”