227 03.01.2019

Over the past few years the satellite industry has grown quite a lot. But it’s nothing compared to the growth which many analysts expect over the next two decades. For example, Goldman Sachs predicts that the space industry as a whole will reach $1 trillion in the 2040s. Merrill Lynch is even more optimistic expecting it to reach $2.7 trillion by the same time.

Earlier this year at the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace 2018, Deloitte’s consultant Jeff Matthews said the space economy now is about $330-350 billion. It’s been growing at a steady pace of 6% to 8% per year over the last decade. Over the years this growth compounds attracting more players, creating more opportunities. As such, 2019 will be quite dynamic in this industry. Let’s check out a few trends we can expect to take shape over the next year.

SmallSats on the rise

SmallSats, i.e. satellites under 500 kg., are gaining popularity. Especially CubeSats which can be up to 10kg. This means lots of companies can afford their own satellite for whatever reason, even if it’s just for small research. It’s also cheaper to hitch a ride on a space rocket along with other missions.

Of course, there are limits to what SmallSats can do, but they are still a great opportunity and their drawbacks can be offset with so-called constellations of many satellites. This makes them an opportunity worth exploring.

Satellite constellations

Speaking of constellations, they are also going to become quite popular. Companies like SpaceX have already started working on such projects. They aren’t the only ones, too. There are many other organizations which are setting up their constellations of satellites.

And there are numerous potential uses for such a project. For example, monitoring infrastructure, agriculture or natural events. Research and development is another option. And, of course, the most obvious one – communications.

Broadband is broad

Satellite communications are indeed going to be quite a hot topic. Especially in the field of broadband internet access. ViaSat-3 and Boeing are working on such a project starting with three satellites which will deliver “100Mbps or more” to unconnected people in emerging markets worldwide. Each satellite will support throughput of over 1 terabit per second.

Of course, such services probably aren’t going to be cheap enough for everyone to use. At least not at first. But since there’s a clear interest from many companies to develop and offer broadband satellite Internet, the competition will continue to drive the prices down. And as you can see from Neterra’s own offerings, there are already quite affordable plans available for both businesses and end users. Expect this trend to continue.

5G coming

5G has been a hot topic for a while now and its popularity will not decrease any time soon. And while 5G is basically a competitor to satellite communications, both technologies are going to depend quite a lot on each other.

“There is a potential role for satellites in the development of 5G networks because many providers are looking at coverage “ecosystems” — heterogenous networks that might include elements such as LEO broadband satellites for backhaul”, says Bill Menezes, a Gartner analyst to ITU News. Satellites can help offload some of the strain on the network and solve problems with distance limitations, underserved areas and more.

Plus, IoT is also coming. It is bound to heavily rely on fast and stable connections. A mixture of both 5G and satellite can secure that. So, there’s plenty of options on the table for both of these otherwise competing technologies.