The Introduction of SpaceX Starlink & How Incumbents Will Survive

In an industry where incumbents have had the market’s share for decades using traditional technology and communications architectures in GEO, changing tides in the values of customers and the reduction of launch costs have enabled SpaceX to tackle a ripe opportunity. SpaceX is quickly gaining ground in the satellite communications marketplace with Starlink – how will the incumbents survive? The market is certainly there, as NSR’s recent Global Satellite Capacity Supply & Demand report estimates that “the Geostationary Orbit (GEO) and Non-GEO (NGSO) high-throughput satellite capacity demand will grow from 1.9 Terabit per second (Tbps) in 2022 to 46.1 Tbps in 2032”. This is a staggering 24x gain in demand that will need to be supplied in only a decade’s time.

ViaSatellite reporter Marisa Torrieri’s article describes several avenues to take with opinions from several GEO industry leaders. Notably, communications providers can differentiate themselves when it comes to latency, capacity, availability, cost, and other aspects. In doing so, communications providers will need to introduce a new architecture or adapt their current communications architecture to meet their customer’s needs. For some, GEO just can’t supply the sufficient latency necessary. Introducing satellites into LEO is the likely solution, as well as hybrid architectures. All in all, however, customers do not care about what orbits the satellites are in – they merely care about the performance and capabilities of the service provided.

Is there a concern for space systems cybersecurity? In any marketplace, cost is the main driver for consumers when deciding between different services. If there is a way for a communications provider to cut their own operating costs to provide services to the consumer at a lower cost, they will to be more competitive. Cybersecurity may be one of the less valued characteristics of a service and in this way may likely be underdeveloped, leading to issues.

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