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Satellite2012 Feature Articles

March 21, 2012

What is the Future of High Throughput Satellites?

DirecTV (News - Alert) and Echostar use them. They can provide Internet access, mobility applications and direct-to-the-home services. What are they? High throughput satellites, of course. And last week at the Satellite 2012 convention in Washington, DC, a group of industry experts sat down to discuss the future of the HTS market.

The session, “The Future of HTS: Monetizing Current Assets or Building New Markets?” was moderated by Patrick French, senior analyst and head of the Singapore Office of Northern Sky Research. He was joined by a distinguished panel of experts including: Marc Agnew, vice president of ViaSat (News - Alert); Andy Lucas, chief operating officer of Harris CapRock; Dave Rehbehn, senior director, Marketing, International Division, Hughes; Nihar Shah, strategic market development director, SES (News - Alert); and Patompod Suwansiri, vice president, Marketing and Business Development, THAICOM.

French opened the session by relaying some pretty surprising facts. First of all, forecasts show that HTS supply will top 1.3 Tbps by 2020, a sixteen-fold increase from 2010. This will nearly double the combined C, Ku and Ka band supplies in the same year and will reach only a 50 percent fill rate.

While broadband access services are the most common usage of HTS, French asked the panel members what they thought the future of HTS looked like.

Agnew says that ViaSat is looking to bring broadband to airline passengers, starting with JetBlue. He further stated that the company is looking into using HTS for cellular backhaul and news gathering and wants to target the oil and gas industry as well as maritime and military customers. He also foresees a future for providing broadband to trains and buses via HTS.

Rehbehn, on the other hand, emphasized that broadband is the driver in HTS. He notes that underserved areas have a billion potential customers and if even 10 percent of them sign up, then that makes 100,000,000 additional accounts that are up for grabs. He said that broadband drives development and usage ranging from telemedicine to 4G backhaul.

Shah bluntly mentioned that more HTS means more bits and more channels at a lower cost.

Each expert had a different spin on the future of HTS, they all agreed that there is an interesting and potentially lucrative future in the space.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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