Satellite television services have become the industry’s less favourable older sibling, but is now the time for satellite operators to branch out, diversify and find new revenue streams to tap into?
For satellite operators who have traditionally provided the capacity for TV broadcast, they are limited as to how they can increase their capacity once a satellite is deployed. There is also the challenge caused by the delay in sending signals to geostationary satellites. Irrespective of the protocol used, the distance to be covered is vast and given more recently deployed undersea fibre and Low and Medium Earth Orbit (LEO and MEO) satellites, the use of geostationary orbit satellites for voice and data communications is less competitive.
However, there are vast swathes of the world where satellite broadcast of TV signals remain the only viable option. This is due to the enormous distances and challenging geography involved in deploying any other form of transmission. Whilst these regions are often sparsely populated, they remain important areas for governments to reach.
There are a few options for geostationary satellite operators who want to fully leverage the assets that they have spent millions on and built to launch into space.
To become a backhaul provider of data, video and voice to localised points of presence in remote areas. There is competition for some services from some Low Earth Orbit operators, but if providers act as the backhaul from mobile or Wi-Fi base stations serving large but remote communities, there is a robust business case for this service.
To consider shifting direction for future investment. Rather than launch new geostationary satellites, providers could consider investing into LEO and MEO networks for broadband and communications services. A number of these satellites have been launched already and the established players have the experience and knowledge to be influential with some already involved in some of these operations targeting IoT (Internet of Things) and M2M (Machine to Machine) solutions.
Change on the horizon
The imminent demise of satellites has been forecast for some time. The past twenty years have seen the rise of mobile technologies, global fibre networks and faster broadband solutions. However, the reality is that there has never been a greater demand for satellite capacity. There is simply less focus on geostationary solutions but on LEO and MEO networks. Broadcast remains the most efficient way to distribute the most popular TV signals. Despite the negative forecast, satellite will remain a major player in this market for many years to come.