Maritime bandwidth capacity demand set to increase 20-fold by 2032

Research finds maritime connectivity market showing high-bandwidth prices adhered to expected downward trends as non-geostationary orbit constellations take to the sea to meet rising demand for satellite bandwidth

With the most serious restrictions of Covid-19 now generally a thing of the past, a study from leading market intelligence firm Euroconsult estimates that the maritime connectivity sector has mostly recovered from the pandemic’s influence on supply chains and vessel activity and now expects maritime satellite communications to surpass $1.1bn in revenues by 2032 at a 7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the decade.

The analyst’s latest Prospects for maritime satellite communications report detailed the value chain of the maritime connectivity ecosystem with an analysis of very-small-aperture terminal (VSAT) service providers’ market shares (network operator and retail level) and VSAT and mobile satellite service (MSS) pricing trends.

Overall, the study noted that even though some service providers would see a fall in their average revenue per unit (ARPU), total service revenues were expected to grow at a similar CAGR, falling slightly short of $3bn by 2032.

The study found that high-bandwidth prices adhered to the expected downward trends for 2022, as accurately predicted in the company’s previous edition of the market intelligence report. This was particularly reinforced by the entrance of non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) constellation services, especially from Starlink, following SES’s O3b mPOWER, with OneWeb expected to join them in 2023/24.

“Starlink’s introduction created some waves in the market, especially in the latter half of the year, receiving a mixed reception,” noted Vishal Patil, senior consultant at Euroconsult and chief editor of the report. “Whilst less cost-sensitive markets such as offshore rigs, large cruises and leisure operators embraced it with open arms, small to medium merchant and fishing vessels remain watchful and are anticipated to trial out multiple services onboard before choosing the most suitable.”

Euroconsult estimates that the launch of maritime NGSO services is driving the adoption of VSATs in the sector, with 37,000 VSAT-equipped vessels at the end of 2022, and the merchant shipping segment set to lead with 23,000 craft.

Analysing new NGSO services, Euroconsult forecast that the passenger segment will be hot on the tail of offshore and leisure verticals in adopting new communications technologies, with Starlink in particular seeing a positive response from some other segments as well. The analyst expects a total of 90,000 VSAT-equipped vessels by 2032, with the associated bandwidth usage to grow 20-fold in 10 years from 65Gbps in 2022 to 1.3Tbps, mainly driven by the increased adoption of VSATs influenced by the availability of NGSO services for the maritime market.

“The cost of capacity will continue to fall given the increased supply provided by the new generation of geostationary very high throughput satellites (GEO VHTS) and NGSO satellites, pressurising existing capacity providers also to lower prices,” Patil added. 

Euroconsult caveats the findings by warning that low-bandwidth services, predominantly for small merchant and fishing vessels, have not escaped the impact of the rising influence of inflation either and have seen an increase in data plan pricing. 

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