HTS: 5 Points to Prepare for 2015

Denis SutherlandBy Denis Sutherland, Sr. Manager, Sales System Engineering

The dust has settled on yet another GVF HTS round table in London. For me, it was my fifth and final panel of 2014. That includes three GVF panels, one at Posidonia and one at the maritime event SMM. All have included lively debate and countless engagements with vendors, satellite operators, consultants and end customers.

Last week we took a look back at the year in HTS. As I alluded to in that blog, 2015 will be a year in which we continue to see more developments on the HTS front. Based on my participation in various conferences and other industry events, I have come away with five distinct things to watch as we prepare for 2015.

iDirect HTS 5 Points
1. The Inflection Point
Analyst projections show that HTS is just getting started as a great deal of capacity is coming online. The numbers paint an encouraging picture for the future.

For example, a report released earlier this year from NSR shows that leased HTS capacity increased by 25.6% in the last year and the wholesale revenue equivalent derived from the global HTS market in 2013 was estimated to be nearly $ 246.3 million, up 14.6% compared to 2012.

But the global market for HTS is still emerging. HTS demand growth rate is expected to rise above 30% annually with broadband access services to be the mainstay of demand. Overall, NSR forecasts that HTS capacity demand will surpass 1,000 Gbps by 2023.

2. Varying Approaches to HTS
It’s good to see that the satellite operators continue to innovate. While we don’t yet have an agreed upon definition of HTS architectures, I do not see this as being a pressing issue at this time. Many satellite operators are taking different approaches. For example, we heard recently about the plan from SES for SES-12, which to some may seem similar to other HTS satellites. However, it actually demonstrates some distinguishing factors, most notably its unique mix of Ka/Ku, along with a third type: the global DTH beam. In all, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the year ahead.

3. Still Searching for that Killer HTS App
The topic that tends to be discussed with the most vigor at conferences these days is the question of which one application will make HTS most successful. In other words, what is the application that will help us fill all the great HTS capacity?

Essentially the markets that are creating considerable excitement include:

By 2023 NSR expects that 33% of the 49,855 VSAT-connected vessels at sea will be on HTS. In terms of commercial airline, Euroconsult expects that over the next 10 years we will see an increase in the number of aircraft connected from just over 3,000 aircraft to more than 13,000.

Cellular Backhaul
Ericsson is projecting another 2.4 billion mobile subscribers by 2019, many of which will come from emerging markets. Satellite will play an important role with Euroconsult saying the number of sites leveraging satellite backhaul between 2007 and 2012 reached 16,000. Satellite bandwidth for cellular backhaul in developing economies could grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7 percent by 2023.

Satellite has been the mainstay communications for military. According to NSR, military VSAT services worldwide will reach $10 billion by 2021.

Oil and Gas
By 2023 10% of connected O&G sites will be for exploration and production, (12% of those sites will utilize HTS capacity), generating 50% of retail revenue and using 77% of bandwidth in the market, says NSR.

While the consumer market presents continued demand for HTS, growing demand is also coming from the enterprise market. Looking forward to 2023, NSR sees a large increase in HTS demand driven by broadband access, with enterprise data services expected to record solid gains.

4. HTS Rubber Hits the Road
The architecture of these new satellites will impact how satellite operators and service providers create services for the end customers. Being able to capture new opportunities will require a mix of traditional business models with new business models. It will be interesting to observe the various ways in which satellite operators and service providers will adapt to various models based on changing market opportunities.

Regardless of business model, the ultimate will be having a ground infrastructure platform that is built to provide exactly that, supporting all business models, helping minimize risk and move with ease and speed, based on varying market dynamics.

5. Interference Matters
A number of participants at GVF commented that interference remains an issue, causing un-quantified millions of dollars of disruption to satellite based services. Encouraging signs are coming from the GVF on this front, as the group continues to drive educational efforts around this topic for the industry.

With so much talk about HTS these days, it almost feels as if we are fully engaged in the HTS era. However, we are merely at the cusp of this exciting next phase for satellite. That means there is still much education needed in the market.

As more programs come online we will continue to see the emergence of a variety of business models from operators. Not only that, but the dynamics will differ greatly by market and by region. If the past 12 months have taught us anything about HTS it is to expect the unexpected. I for one am ready to take on the challenge. How about you?

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