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Software-defined satellite trend triggers US$86.9 billion revenue opportunity

NSR’s new report Software-Defined Satellites (SDS) has launched, which sees growing satellite flexibility requirements trigger an US$86.9 billion cumulative revenue opportunity by decade’s end. Non-GEO- HTS constellation satellites will lead uptake with 95 percent demonstrating full or partial flexibility as software-defined platforms by 2030. However, operator hesitancy sees only 70 percent of GEO satellite orders to capture this trend in the medium term.

“Standardization drives down manufacturing costs, leading to cheaper software-defined satellites than contemporary partial or bent-pipe counterparts, yet, as operators aim to launch extensive coverage networks, full software-definition is not likely in the near-term,” notes report Co-author Dallas Kasaboski. “Most Non-GEO constellation satellites will feature some, but not all of the capabilities of a fully software-defined system, while GEO operators evaluate business potential."


With testing still in progress, GEO adoption will be slower in the short to medium term, though the customer flexibility ask is clear. Most high-throughput comms constellations are expected to have the ability to steer beams, redistribute power and reshape spectrum, to enable network efficiency, cater to current/future customers, and new use cases. Strategic planning of business case potential in the short term will increase the operator long-term revenue opportunity.


“GEO communication platforms are not in dire need of immediate change; however, embracing innovations such as software-defined platforms allow operators to enable new business cases and growth opportunities,” states report Co-author Hussain Bokhari. “With enhanced offerings to customers through flexibility options, businesses could minimize CAPEX and increase profits over the satellite life cycle.”


While operators slowly assess each level of flexible platform offering, technology and manufacturing processes are advancing, leading to potential cost-savings and greater platform flexibility. New technologies and approaches are enabling different cost-structures and satellite networks, creating opportunities in the industry for both business-case capture and emerging business-case development.

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