Satellites Map in Latin America 2021 - Credit: © 2021 Convergencialatina
The size of Space X's Starlink fleet and beta availability of broadband access in a handful of countries enables it to deliver the first concrete business model results for LEO and associated services, in view of a industry eager for certainty about this new - and still enigmatic - market. Although the first tests show good signs in terms of speed, the latency still exceeds that of terrestrial alternatives. The cost of the terminals - US $ 500 paid by the subscriber - discourage their arrival in Latin America: the price should decrease ten times to make sense for the regional residential market, according to estimates from local operators.
Meanwhile, Canada's Telesat prepares its Lightspeed fleet of 298 Ka-band satellites for its foray into LEO. Unlike SpaceX, it will focus on the business market: in this sense, it has already reached an agreement with the Canadian government for US $ 462 million to offer dedicated capacity pools that ISPs and operators will be able to acquire at reduced rates to serve rural households. and indigenous communities. Up to 20 Gbps can also be offered for hotspot sites at airports or seaports.
Another constellation for LEO under construction is OneWeb, with 218 artifacts deployed. The firm comes from living its own soap opera on par with the pandemic. After filing for Chapter 11 of the United States in May 2020, it was "rescued" by the British government and a division of Bharti Enterprises, which contributed US $ 1 billion for the relaunch of operations. Hughes joined the project, with US $ 50 million, and in April 2021 Eutelsat joined the project, with US $ 550 million.
OneWeb is targeting telcos and ISPs, in a similar approach to Telesat. Eutelsat's entry implies a strong validation of the LEO model by a traditional GEO operator. And a commitment to the idea of ??complementarity between both orbits, in opposition to the discussion that had been taking place in the industry, of confrontation “GEO vs. LEO ”. For Eutelsat, OneWeb could capture 10-20% of the global B2B market. Although 60% of the business remains in Broadcast, the pillar of services for governments and fixed data will be exploited through this foray into low orbit.
This view is in turn associated with the profound shift that is currently taking place in the satellite sector, towards a model based on data. Businesses in mobility and expansion of connectivity services tread stronger and stronger, generating greater growth in revenue than the Video or broadcast area, especially after a year of pandemic in which the latter segment was impacted by the stop in sports. and events. Both the new constellations and the traditional satellites in GEO are in a race to capture opportunities in a new “data-driven” era.
The shift occurs in turn in times of recovery in the industry, which experienced 2020 with few satellite launches for GEO and postponements of plans. The launch of Intelsat's Galaxy 30 into orbit was one of the few fleet renewals in the first year of the pandemic, in line with an operator that was radically transformed after Chapter 11 and the reconfiguration of the C-band in the United States. In addition to relocations, it restored two devices to extend their useful life with the coupling of the Mission Extension Vehicles (MEV-1 and 2). In the remainder of 2021, the launches of Embratel's Star One D2 are scheduled for late July; SES-17 of SES, in the second half of the year; while Space X and OneWeb fleet expansions continue. In 2022 the first satellite of the Viasat 3 constellation and Hughes' Jupiter 3 will be added.