Satellite 5G networks to gain lucrative orbit over next seven years

Study predicts huge spike in additional revenue for satellite services operators for 5G comms to 2030, and outlined prospects for 6G networks, including coverage and throughput capabilities

One of the key trends in the communications industry in 2023 has been the rocketing increase of satellite-based telecoms and data services, and a study from Juniper Research has calculated that satellite network operators (SNOs) will generate $17bn of additional revenue from Third-generation Partnership Project (3GPP)-compliant 5G satellite networks between 2024 and 2030.

The report, Global 5G satellite networks market 2023-2030, is claimed to offer the most comprehensive assessment of the 3GPP‑compliant 5G satellite network to date, providing analysis and forecasts of over 24,000 datapoints across 60 markets over five years.

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.

In a call to action, the report urges operators to sign partnerships with SNOs that will enable them to launch monetisable satellite-based 5G services to their subscribers. Juniper regards SNOs as possessing the capabilities to launch next-generation satellite hardware into space, as well as being responsible for the operation and management of the resulting networks.

To capitalise further, the research urges operators to prioritise immediate partnerships with SNOs that can launch Geostationary Orbit (GSO) satellites, always located above the country the operator serves and capable of providing consistent connectivity.

Additionally, it said 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 that this existing billing relationship will enable operators to rapidly drive the adoption of satellite connectivity by integrating satellite services into existing terrestrial networks.

Looking forward, the analyst said operators hold the key billing relationship in preparation for 6G networks, and predicts operators will increasingly rely on SNOs for service provision as 6G development accelerates. “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,” said research author Sam Barker.

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Just as the research was being released, media delivery services provider Enensys Technologies announced it was partnering with leading satellite operator Eutelsat to use DVB-Native IP (DVB-NIP) technology to enable streaming video services over 5G networks.

DVB-NIP is the new standard to enable convergence of broadband and broadcast services to increase the reach for satellite and broadcast operations. The system is designed to address services to multiscreen devices even with unconnected users.

The companies said 5G with the latest 3GPP releases have all the capabilities to distribute content efficiently using unicast, multicast or broadcast delivery methods. They added that the deployment of 5G networks will require the implementation of very dense, low-power transmitters and that satellite distribution technologies, coupled with the new DVB-NIP standard, are extremely well suited to deliver live media content to these networks. 

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