To date, satellite broadband has enjoyed limited success. Suppliers such as Viasat of California, Hughes Network Systems and Paris-based Eutelsat have made some limited headway in supplying consumers and businesses from geo-stationary but numerically modest subscriber numbers. That’s about to change, reports research specialist company, Euroconsult.
Universal Broadband Access is Euroconsult’s first-ever report on satellite-based broadband and the firm forecasts that the global market for satellite broadband is expected to triple, with service revenues reaching $12.7 billion by 2029.
The report makes superb reading for the likes of Elon Musk’s Starlink, the UK/India-backed OneWeb and other satellite-based suppliers of capacity.
“With 46 percent of the world’s population still unconnected, satellite broadband remains key to bringing essential services to sparsely populated regions where extending terrestrial networks is not economically feasible,” stated the report.
Euroconsult compares and contrasts the current terrestrial and wireless penetration, saying that “significant progress has been made to expand access and adoption of broadband services as demonstrated by the growth in internet users, which doubled between 2010 and 2020, to just over 4 billion users worldwide in 2020. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of universal broadband access and accelerated efforts towards bridging the divide between those with high-speed broadband access and those without connectivity.”
“Organizations such as the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development set targets to encourage governments to invest in programs that contribute to bridging the digital divide,” said Dimitri Buchs, Senior Consultant at Euroconsult. “Overall, the broadband ecosystem will be central to building the post COVID-19 world, notably by making sure universal equitable access to broadband services is part of the new normal. We have a long way to go to achieve this, but satellite will be key to reaching many who are currently unserved or underserved.”
Euroconsult reports there are three key categories of satellite solutions that address the Universal Broadband market. They include: consumer broadband, WiFi hotspots and cellular backhaul. Consumer broadband is currently the dominant option in advanced economies, while Wi-Fi hotspots are most frequently used in less developed regions, notably due to the lower cost of services and the ability to share costs among a large number of users.
The Euroconsult research found that in 2020, 43 million people were connected to broadband via satellite, roughly one percent of the world’s connected population. This number is expected to grow to 110 million in 2029, with Latin America adding roughly 20 million users and Sub-Saharan Africa adding 16 million.