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Global High Throughput Satellites Market Poised for Record-Breaking Growth

By Caleb Henry | December 27, 2013
      HTS Euroconsult South America

      Intelsat 33e, part of Intelsat’s Epic 702MP satellites for HTS coverage. Photo: Intelsat

      [Via Satellite 12-27-13] High Throughput Satellite (HTS) services continue to be a popular idea, which Euroconsult believes has the potential to grow rapidly in 2014 and the following years. Over the past decade, 31 HTS systems were launched, bringing higher levels of bandwidth via smaller apertures to more end users. According to the research, 33 HTS systems will be launched over the next three years, far outpacing previous levels of growth.

      This increase is expected to cause notable changes in the availability of satellite resources. HTS capacity worldwide is projected to reach 1,400 Gbps in 2016, nearly three times the amount currently available. Total cumulative investment will exceed $12 billion as a result of the uptake of HTS services. By 2022 total revenues from HTS capacity usage are forecasted to grow to approximately $5.6 billion, generating more than $33 billion in aggregate revenue between 2013 and 2022.

      The technology used for HTS systems is expected to be diverse. HTS capacity is generally estimated to be three to four times that of conventional satellites. This does not mean, however, that HTS capacity for a single end-user will increase to the same extent. This is because of differentiated satellite designs that do not all provide the same amount of available beam capacity.

      “HTS systems will not be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution but are designed to the meet the specific needs of the targeted vertical market,” said Nathan de Ruiter, senior consultant, Euroconsult.

      Many different approaches are being taken to the design of HTS networks. Frequency band, coverage, platform access and payload flexibility all vary between operators. Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network is built to operate in Ka-band across three ocean regions to maintain global coverage with an emphasis on U.S. military markets. Intelsat’s Epic satellite service combines HTS with IntelsatOne’s terrestrial resources, and provides coverage in Ku-, Ka-, and C-band. ViaSat is focusing on North and Central America, where the company will employ ViaSat 1 and the upcoming ViaSat 2 for use expanding its Exede In The Air  in-flight connectivity service.

      Euroconsult expects HTS services for commercial aviation and maritime to experience a gradual take-up starting in 2014. The HTS systems needed for these services are expected to be available within the next year.

      South America may still prove hard to reach with HTS, a challenge often attributed to a lack of strong regional business plans or difficult tropical weather.  The key to penetrating South American markets may be through focusing on consumer broadband, which represents HTS’ largest market vertical globally.

      “Our research showed that in Brazil and Mexico there is a potential demand of millions of households for residential satellite broadband services,” said Ignacio Sanchis, chief commercial officer, Hispasat. “When you combine the expected pace of deployment of other terrestrial broadband networks with the expected increase of many population groups that today cannot afford these services but will in the coming years, the result is that millions of households are potentially customers.”

      As for Asia, the region could be on the verge of a breakthrough over the next few years in terms of HTS.

      “We see a lot of similarity between Asia Pacific and the other emerging regions,” said Terry Bleakley, regional vice president for Asia Pacific sales at Intelsat. “Asia Pacific is probably further along in exploiting the HTS opportunity and will provide a good reference point for the other regions in how to best deploy and use HTS platforms and solutions. All of Asia Pacific has burgeoning demand for broadband. HTS is best suited for complementary coverage and as a demand-balancing overlay to terrestrial infrastructure. The growth opportunity in markets like China and India is expected to constrained by self-imposed regulatory paralysis.”

      And in Africa, Pierre-Jean Beylier, SpeedCast’s CEO, believes there is an important opportunity for HTS to provide necessary solutions.

      “SpeedCast sees immediate opportunities for Ka-band frequency services in the Middle East and Africa due to the low levels of precipitation in these regions. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for these markets; SpeedCast sees a combination of service offerings as the ideal business plans in these countries,” Bevlier said.

      All around the world, the need for HTS capacity is “undeniably growing in a world that is more and more connected and increasingly data thirsty,” said de Ruiter.

      Euroconsult predicts almost 60 percent of HTS capacity usage in 2022 will come from consumer broadband. Cellular backhaul is expected to grow at approximately 35 percent p.a. from now until 2022, as are civil government and enterprise networks. Whereas those verticals are expected to see significant growth in emerging markets, video service traffic over HTS systems is expected come primarily from North America and Europe.