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New Spirit of Peace and Goodwill in MSS Sector

By | September 10, 2013

      [Paris, France 09-10-13] The MSS panel at World Satellite Business Week, “MSS Operators: Developing the Next Generation,” was dominated by a new sense of goodwill among the companies. In previous years, the MSS panel particularly at the SATELLITE show in Washington, D.C., had been punctuated by some sharp exchanges particularly between Iridium CEO Matt Desch and ex-Inmarsat CEO, Andy Sukawaty. The prevailing mood this time was that, while there are occasional overlaps in terms of markets, every company has a very different approach, and there was a broad consensus that the MSS industry was in good shape.

      No company characterizes this better than Globalstar. Its Chairman and CEO Jay Monroe gave details about an exciting new product launch. The company, out of all the MSS operators, is really targeting the consumer market.

      “We are aiming to bring a $100 satellite device to market in 18 months time. This will enable us to enter into a totally different market,” said Monroe. “Our long-term view is that everybody in the world some day can benefit from Globalstar. We want to go deeper and deeper into the consumer market. The [MSS] market will expand and expand and grow dramatically. We will definitely be buying more satellites at some point at time [to meet this demand].”

      All the companies on the panel believed there was plenty of room for the overall MSS industry to grow, even if they were reluctant to put actual figures on what size of the market would become. “I am constantly looking for applications not competing with other things. Long term, I see great potential [in the market],” said Desch.

      Samer Halawi, CEO, Thuraya, believes the vertical markets such as enterprise and oil and gas will continue to be strong for MSS, but he still foresees more growth. “There is a growing need for products. We believe that the market will expand and grow in different directions far more than it has in the past 10 years. The pie is growing because of the innovation taking place in the market. We are looking to double revenues over the next five years,” he said.

      Rupert Pearce, CEO, Inmarsat added, “There is huge growth potential around the world. We are seeing robust growth in all of our major markets.”

      One of the markets that the MSS sector is targeting is M2M, but is this market about to reach its potential tipping point? “I think we are a little bit away from the tipping point in M2M,” said Pearce. “We are integrating with terrestrial solutions. The exciting news is that there is a strong desire and need for terrestrial networks to become more resilient. What will be small beer for terrestrial markets will be a big opportunity for us. The satellite piece is a small part of the overall pie.”

      Desch agreed, saying he also believes “we are some time away” from the tipping point in the M2M market. “Even on the terrestrial market, it has not reached the tipping point. There are standards issues that need to be resolved. I think we will need to lower costs. But, it is still is very positive,” he said.

      With Inmarsat’s Global Xpress set to launch soon and Iridium’s NEXT constellation also not that far away from launch, there is a lot of excitement in the industry. Also, Globalstar has launched its satellites, so a lot of eyes are on Thuraya and what potentially their next generation constellation may look like.

      Halawi gave little away but hinted that the company could make a decision in 2014. “We are starting to look at our next generation capability. We are looking at several things for our new constellation but nothing has really done it for us so far. But, I hope it will be over the next year,” he said.

      Pearce also spoke about Inmarsat’s capital expenditure plans and said the company was “in discussions with satellite manufacturers about the Inmarsat 6 satellites.”