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SATELLITE 2024: Key takeaways, hot topics and emerging technologies

As SATELLITE 2024 concluded in Washington D.C, we had the opportunity to chat with industry experts and delve into some of this year’s key highlights. Here, Kevin French of Talk Satellite and Elisabeth Tweedie, satcoms industry expert and writer, answer our questions and share their thoughts on the biggest trends coming from the exhibition and conference.

 

What were your thoughts on this year’s event? What was your biggest takeaway?


Elisabeth: It was impossible to have a conversation without Starlink being mentioned. Love it or hate it, it's changed the industry, sparking speculation not only about its long-term impact but also about what the end game is.


Kevin: Most attendees will agree that Satellite 2024 was the best we've seen in a while, with a great vibe and everyone keen to make business happen. The most significant announcement was Intelsat's advancement of its Multi-Orbit Strategy through the expansion of the Eutelsat Group LEO Agreement. There's much to be interpreted from this agreement, and time will tell where it is heading. Additionally, the USA is actively supporting innovation and development in the satellite industry, fostering a strong belief in its lucrative future.

 

What were the hot topics from the discussions this year?


Elisabeth: As well as Starlink’s transformative impact on the industry, there was significant discussion on the integration of satellite technology with terrestrial networks, particularly concerning advancements in 5G and 6G. Other notable topics included concerns about orbital debris, exploration of lunar orbits, and space exploration in general.


Kevin: Small GEO satellites are gaining a lot of attention and, naturally, multi-orbit solutions are also in the spotlight as GEO operators grapple with the impact of LEO and MEO satellites on their revenues. Again, there were questions about funding for future LEO constellations, although executives at the Telesat booth were eager to assure attendees that they are well-prepared and equipped.


What emerging technologies or advancements showcased at the event do you believe are “the ones to watch” and could make an impact in the industry in the future?


Elisabeth: I would have to say the shift from hardware to software and virtualization. Advancements in lunar exploration is one to watch too. These innovations hold promise for reshaping how satellite communication systems are designed, deployed, and managed in the future.


Kevin: Finally, we are witnessing the arrival of more innovative antenna/terminals in the industry. Though perhaps arriving three years later than expected, it's better late than never. These advancements will enable new applications for satellite technology and provide more effective services in bandwidth-starved networks.


Looking ahead, what are your predictions of what we can expect from the satellite industry in the next five years?


Elisabeth: Forecasts suggest a wave of consolidation, as well as the possibility of bankruptcies (Chapter 11s) and restructuring. However, amidst these challenges, there are promising developments on the horizon. In-space assembly and manufacturing (ISAM) is expected to gain traction, alongside the emergence of Direct-to-Device (D2D) services as a viable offering. I also think we will witness a substantial increase in lunar exploration and mining activities.


Kevin: As well as this, I’m sure we will have clarity regarding the sustainability of large LEO constellations. We should also know if we have managed to protect access to space through effective space junk management. There is no doubt that by then, we will have a clear understanding of which nations truly have a Space Economy.


 

 

Thank you to Kevin and Elisabeth for their valuable time and thoughts.


Across the trends and insights shared, both here and at the conference, the importance of the ground segment remains a common theme. The latest advancements in satellite ground segment technologies will be discussed at Strategies in Satellite Ground Segment (SSGS) 2024 – a new event, hosted by Satellite Evolution, in conjunction with Talk Satellite.


Focusing on topics such as satellite communication protocols, ground station automation, antenna technologies, and network security, the event will feature comprehensive technical sessions and a technology showcase.


SSGS 2024 will take place at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, in London, on Wednesday, September 4 and Thursday, September 5. For more information, visit the event website.

 

To find out more about Proactive PR, book a meeting with our Marketing Director Jade Hush.

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