Juniper Research: 5G Satellite Networks are a $17B Operator Opportunity

New research from Juniper Research forecasts that network operators will generate $17 billion of additional revenue from 3GPP‑compliant 5G satellite networks between 2024 and 2030. 

Editor’s Note: There is no serious work in ITU-R on 5G satellite networks as we’ve previously detailed.  The real SatCom air interface specifications work is being done by 3GPP, under the umbrella term of NTN (Non-terrestrial Networks), in Release 17 and the forthcoming Release 18.

ITU-R WP5D is responsible for terrestrial IMT radio interfaces (IMT-2000, IMT-Advanced and IMT-2020/M.2150 as well as IMT for 2030 and Beyond), so it won’t be involved in standardizing radio interfaces satellite networks.

ITU-R Working Party 4B (WP 4B) is responsible for recommendations related to: Systems, air interfaces, performance and availability objectives for FSS, BSS and MSS, including IP-based applications and satellite news gathering.

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The market research firm urges network operators to sign partnerships with SNOs (Satellite Network Operators) which will enable operators to launch monetizable satellite-based 5G services to their subscribers. SNOs possess capabilities to launch next-generation satellite hardware into space, as well as being responsible for the operation and management of the resulting networks.

The new report, Global 5G Satellite Networks Market 2023-2030 offers the most reliable source of data for the market.

Operators Hold the Key Billing Relationship:

The research predicts the first commercial launch of a 5G satellite network will occur in 2024, with over 110 million 3GPP‑compliant 5G satellite connections in operation by 2030. To capitalise on this growth, the research urges operators to prioritise immediate partnerships with SNOs that can launch GSO (Geostationary Orbit) satellites. These satellites follow the rotation of the earth to always be located above the country that the operator serves; providing consistent connectivity.

Additionally, operators must leverage their pre-existing billing relationship with mobile subscribers and enterprises as a platform to grow 5G satellite connectivity revenue over the next seven years. The report anticipates this existing billing relationship will enable operators to rapidly drive the adoption of satellite connectivity by integrating satellite services into existing terrestrial networks.

3GPP Releases related to SatCom:

3GPP Rel-17 is enabling the launch of satellite-based communications. Unlike traditional telecommunications ecosystems, the development of this market will be defined by the entrance of a new category of players – satellite vendors. These vendors will work with network operators to deploy NTNs (Non-terrestrial Networks) that side alongside terrestrial networks.

NTNs are a joint development between network operators and satellite vendors to drive growth of telecommunications services.  In the future, NTNs will integrate directly with satellite-based networks to provide connectivity with comprehensive services.

However, the development of NTN specifications is far from complete, the 3GPP roadmap includes provisions in 3GPP Releases 18 and 19 for enhancements to satellite services.  3GPP Release 20 includes the provision of satellite-based standards for future 6G networks. It is only with these standards that satellite networks can progress past traditional use cases, such as weather monitoring, global positioning services and broadcasting, which require low-to-medium throughput rates and do not need low latency.

Additionally, satellites have not been required, as the low data rates provided by previous iterations of satellite technologies, combined with the high costs of satellite connectivity, have not been able to compete with the service provided by terrestrial networks.

These will be the most immediate benefits of satellite-based services for 5G networks:

• Increased network coverage: Satellites will provide increased coverage to areas where terrestrial networks are financially unviable. This is most notable in rural areas where there is little demand for cellular connectivity; leaving operators with no return on investment into the needed backhaul infrastructure and base stations.

• Increased support of backhaul infrastructure: Given the data-intensive nature of 5G services, satellite infrastructure will be used to carry data in a similar fashion to fibre services in terrestrial networks.

• Increase network capacity and throughput: Satellites can offload data from terrestrial networks. As the number of 5G connections increases, so will the data generated. In turn, satellites can not only provide coverage in areas where there is little support for 5G services, but they can also alleviate geographical areas that require high throughput and support for a large number of connections.

• More network resilience: Satellites will provide an additional layer of network redundancy for communication services during natural disasters or network outages. When terrestrial networks are inoperable, satellites will be used for connectivity in the absence of terrestrial network.

Preparation for 6G Networks:

However, the research predicts operators will increasingly rely on SNOs for service provision as 6G development accelerates. Research author Sam Barker commented:

“Operators must not only think of 5G satellite services when choosing an SNO partner, but also the forward plan for 6G networks, including coverage and throughput capabilities.”

About the Research Suite:

The new market research suite offers the most comprehensive assessment of the 3GPP‑compliant 5G satellite network to date; providing analysis and forecasts of over 24,000 data points across 60 markets over five years.

View the 5G Satellite Networks market researchhttps://www.juniperresearch.com/researchstore/operators-providers/5g-satellite-networks-research-report

Download a free sample: https://www.juniperresearch.com/whitepapers/5g-satellite-networks-the-17bn-operator

References:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20230917388965/en/Juniper-Research-5G-Satellite-Networks-to-Generate-Additional-17bn-of-Revenue-for-Operators-over-Next-Seven-Years

SatCom market services, ITU-R WP 4G, 3GPP Release 18 and ABI Research Market Forecasts

GSMA- ESA to collaborate on on new satellite and terrestrial network technologies

 

Emergency SOS: Apple iPhones to be able to send/receive texts via Globalstar LEO satellites in November

Apple finally confirmed a longstanding rumor that its new iPhones will be able to connect directly to LEO satellites to send and receive text messages. The feature, called Emergency SOS, will allow iPhone 14 models to message from remote locations not covered by traditional cellular infrastructure. Apple says the service launches in November and will be free to iPhone 14 buyers for two years. It didn’t specify what it might cost after that.  Apple noted at Wednesday’s Cupertino, CA HQ event that its smartphone would need to be pointed directly at a satellite to work, and that even light foliage could make texts  a few minutes to send.

Globalstar confirmed in a filing Wednesday that it will be operating the service through a partnership with Apple. Under that agreement, Apple will cover 95% of the capital expenditures made by Globalstar to build up its network, including new satellites, to provide the service. It will require Globalstar to allocate 85% of its “current and future network capacity” to support the service, which analyst Mike Crawford of B. Riley describes as “in one fell swoop converting an underutilized asset to a productive asset.”

The deal will include service fees and potential bonus payments, allowing Globalstar to project total revenue in a range of $185 million to $230 million for next year and $250 million to $310 million for 2026, which is expected to be the first full year that all of the company’s new satellites are operational. Even the low end of the near-term target would be a record high for the satellite-service provider, representing a gain of 44% above the annual revenue Globalstar has averaged for the past three years. Globalstar notably broke from the traditionally dry language of SEC filings to describe the deal as “transformational.”

Globalstar, currently offers SPOT X which provides 2-way satellite messaging so users can stay connected whenever you’re outside of cellular range, including direct communication with search & rescue services in case of a life-threatening emergency. SPOT X provides your own personal U.S. mobile number so others can message you directly from their mobile phone or SMS devices at any time.

Globalstar Satellite System:

Like “bent-pipes” or mirrors in the sky, the Globalstar satellites pick up signals from over 80% of the Earth’s surface. Our satellites transmit customer signals via CDMA technology to antennas at the appropriate terrestrial gateway, then the signals are routed through the local networks.  This highly effective design offers the shortest connectivity latency and enables Globalstar to upgrade our system with the latest technology on the ground.

Globalstar’s new satellite constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites and second generation ground infrastructure deliver exceptional quality, reliable coverage and high quality service to its customers.

Image Credit:  Globalstar

The company’s patented satellite path and gateway diversity technologies allow customers to stay connected in the event of a single satellite failure by automatically transmitting to the next available satellite. This ensures uninterrupted communication in even the most suboptimal conditions like mountainous areas or urban canyons.

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There is increasing competition for LEO satellite based internet access from smartphones:

  1. Starlink/SpaceX, announced a deal last month with T-Mobile to launch a text-based service by the end of next year.  The Apple-Globalstar service might have cooled some enthusiasm. It is designed for emergency texting only, as opposed to providing a more typical smartphone experience in the wild.
  2. In addition to T-Mobile’s venture with SpaceX, the Globalstar rival Iridium announced in July that it has entered a development agreement with an unnamed company for a smartphone service that it expects to complete by the end of the year. Ric Prentiss of Raymond James wrote Thursday that the total addressable market “for satellite-smartphone off-the-grid connectivity is quite large with room for several initiatives globally.”

References:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-will-keep-globalstar-in-orbit-11662698148?mod=markets_major_pos3

https://www.globalstar.com/en-us/solutions/emergency-remote-communications

https://www.globalstar.com/en-us/about/our-technology

 

Musk’s SpaceX and T-Mobile plan to connect mobile phones to LEO satellites in 2023

Qualcomm and Iridium launch Snapdragon Satellite for 2-Way Messaging on Android Premium Smartphones – Technology Blog (comsoc.org)

 

Greg Wyler- OneWeb Satellite-Internet CEO- Telecom Man of the Year + $500M more from Softbank

Greg Wyler, the entrepreneur and CEO of satellite internet company OneWeb, has won the Fierce Wireless “Most Powerful Person In Telecom” tournament for 2017, just edging past T-Mobile CEO John Legere during this weekend’s final matchup and beating other industry notables like Ericsson’s Borje Ekholm, Apple’s Tim Cook and Verizon’s Lowell McAdam.

This past  Sunday afternoon, Legere urged his almost 5 million Twitter followers to vote for OneWeb’s Wyler instead of himself:

Join me in voting for Greg as the Most Powerful Person in Wireless! We have until tomorrow morning to put Greg_Wyler (and his mission) on top, where he belongs! https://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/john-legere-vs-greg-wyler-vote-for-most-powerful-person-u-s-telecom-industry-2017 

“This has been an amazing public statement about the need for global connectivity. Our mission is to enable affordable access for the world’s unconnected. While we still have a lot of work to do, with the support of partners, friends, governments, and customers, I know we will get there,” Wyler said in a statement issued shortly before voting ended on Tuesday morning.

OneWeb appears to have recently received another vote of confidence from Japan’s SoftBank. According to a Wall Street Journal report, SoftBank has increased its investment in OneWeb by another $500 million, bringing its total to $1.5 billion.

Wyler also told the WSJ that the company’s initial fleet of more than 700 low-altitude satellites is “generally on schedule” for launches beginning in 2018. The company plans to start offering service in Alaska by 2019 and expanding worldwide by the end of 2020, Wyler told the Journal. Further, he said that OneWeb plans to deploy 900 second-generation, higher-orbiting satellites by the mid-2020s, which he said would allow the company to offer speeds of 2.5 Gbps.

Mr. Wyler’s project has final approval from the Federal Communications Commission to turn on domestic service within two years, barring major technical or manufacturing problems. The approval also is contingent on other conditions.

According to Mr. Wyler, his team also is “trying to lead the charge” in reducing orbital debris stemming from potential satellite collisions or failures. OneWeb’s satellites, weighing hundreds of pounds and expected to cost less than $1 million apiece, are designed to be “as high or higher in quality and reliability” than much larger models costing $150 million or more, he said.

An early financial backer of some of the largest internet companies on both sides of the Pacific, SoftBank continues to seek synergies with mobile-phone businesses and the portfolio of assorted technology companies it has assembled over the years. SoftBank also has created the world’s biggest tech investment fund, worth nearly $100 billion. The Vision Fund has been roiling the venture community with its sheer scale, lifting valuations and helping entrepreneurs bypass usual fundraising rounds.

Since its official launch in May with the backing of investors such as Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund, the fund has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in companies that SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son believes will corner key technologies in a future of smarter, interconnected, and automated devices. OneWeb’s satellites are geared to help serve as the backbone for those applications, Mr. Son has said.

SoftBank, which has a 40% stake in OneWeb based on a prior investmentwalked away from merger talks between its U.S. wireless carrierSprint Corp. and rival T-Mobile US Inc., unwilling to relinquish control as the top shareholder of a spectrum Mr. Son believes will be valuable as everyday objects from cars to refrigerators increasingly communicate with one another.

Mr. Wyler, for his part, has long advocated the advantages of combining satellites circling the earth at different altitudes, arguing such synergies dramatically increase capacity and efficiencies. But unlike Mr. Musk’s concept, he doesn’t favor laser links between satellites on the grounds that such add-ons unduly increase weight and complexity.

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 Conclusions:

According to Fierce’s readership, Wyler is not only the industry’s top rising starfor 2017, he’s also the industry’s most powerful person. And that comes after Softbank reportedly  invested another $500M in One Web- his satellite Internet start-up company!