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NSR’s latest report projects $2 billion optical satcom market driven by non-GEO constellations

NSR’s newly released Optical Satellite Communications, 4th Edition (OSC4) projects a $2 Billion Optical Satcom market for equipment, driven primarily by upcoming Non-GEO constellations. As Optical Satcom growth trends upwards at a 47% CAGR, projected demand reaches 6,000+ laser communication terminal (LCT) units over the next decade.

Optical Satcom is situated to significantly impact both core commercial Satellite Applications industries- Communications and Earth Observation. LCTs enable transition into higher bandwidth services for satcom and deliver a robust backbone network for backhaul and trunking services via mesh connectivity and lower latency. Similarly, Optical offerings provide high bandwidth pipes for data downlink, meeting next generation Earth Observation satellite demands as increasing sensor resolution and ever more satellites lead to need for higher data rates for download.

“While the Optical Satcom market sits on the cusp of growth, there is still a long road ahead,” states report co- author Shivaprakash Muruganandham. “Few vendors have production facilities with high volume LCT manufacturing capabilities, and even fewer have legacy hardware." Pricing also remains a challenge, given current low order volumes,” Muruganandham adds. “Yet, significant growth is on the horizon with constellation launches driving demand in the near to mid-term.”

“Short term adoption of Optical in Earth Observation will be driven by many operators, with some focused on interoperability with the US Space Development Agency's constellation, for instance,” notes report co-author Prachi Kawade “Data relay service providers also have a role to play here in the initial phases of adoption. Standardization will further the case for this market as modularity of terminals and inter-operability bring improved flexibility for spacecraft.”

In the near-term, opportunity is equipment-centric; however, as more LCT-equipped satellites launch, market potential expands. The foundations are being laid for future satcom and relay services, such as with quantum communications and low latency downlink, creating a strong long-term outlook.

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