Affiliations: The TA Group, P.O. Box 4620, Palos Verdes, CA 90274, USA Tel.: +1 310 373 1925; Fax: +1 310 373 5539; E‐mail: [email protected]
Abstract: For the past decade numerous companies have been advocating Ka‐band satellites for new broadband services. Only a few of the proposed systems are currently deployed or under construction (Spaceway, WildBlue, EuroSkyWay, StarBand, DirectWay, SES ASTRA, EUTELSAT, and, perhaps, INTELSAT). Many concepts have disappeared because they lacked business merit, including some with strong corporate backing. It is appropriate to examine the current situation and consider why the implementation has been slower than initially expected. One of the best ways to determine the success of a new business is to examine closely related industries. In order to predict the growth of broadband satellite services, this paper examines the development of VSAT services and early Internet access initiatives. We expect that the VSAT business will transform itself over the next few years into the broadband services business. We have some data to track growth in that industry. If this growth trend continues, the number of broadband users could be as small as 1.3 million in 2010. However, a surge in demand for high speed Internet‐access could increase growth rates in the stagnant VSAT industry. We include an updated demand estimate that is based on the number of paying users of high data rate services. This paper discusses: 1. Required conditions for financial success of broadband satellites. 2. Several technical challenges that must be overcome. 3. How Ka‐band systems can avoid the business difficulties of the Big LEO systems that were technically functional but too expensive to attract a sufficient number of subscribers.