Affiliations: COMSAT Corporation, 6560 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda, MD 20817, USA
Abstract: In recent years there has been an explosion of interest in new satellite systems, witness the fact that in the US alone the Federal Communications Commission has received 43 filings in response to four recent Notice of Proposed Rule Makings. This paper reviews (in Part I) some of the underlying reasons for this surge of interest, as well as the filings themselves. A combination of factors seems to be at work, including a) the enormous growth in telecommunications worldwide (fueled by increased global trade, the enormous growth of the World Wide Web and e‐commerce, deregulation, and the introduction of new services) and b) changes in the structure of the commercial satellite communication industry (such as the entry of new players, e.g., Motorola and vertical integration of satellite manufacturers – Hughes, Loral, Lockheed Martin into services). In Part II the prospects for the long‐term future of the industry are examined, where it is concluded that, despite all the present interest, satellites will likely see continued use only where they offer unrivalled competitive advantages, such as for broadcasting, reaching mobile platforms and areas presently lacking adequate terrestrial communications facilities.