New Directions in Space (5 June 2018)

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New Directions in Space (5 June 2018)

It’s been a long-held ambition to hold a BSN-UK networking meeting at the UK headquarters of ESA, based at Harwell in Oxfordshire.

Being a little way out of London, it might have been difficult for members to get away from their desk long enough to make the journey. However, attendance was exceptionally good for the event and those who had been able to make the journey found that it was time truly well-spent.

After a warm welcome from Alan Brunstrom, Liaison Officer, Telecommunications & Integrated Applications, and Philip Haines, Head of Market Analysis and Business Intelligence, Alan provided BSN Members with a thorough historical overview of ESA’s work in the UK, including projects in robotics, autonomous exploration and telecoms. In particular with a focus on the ARTES Programme which covers technical, navigation, telecoms, operations and earth observations. To date, ESA has incubated some 65 companies, including some of the latest developments in Additive Manufacturing (3D printing on a grand scale).

When Phil Haines took to the rostrum, none of the BSN-UK members could have known he was about to give one of the most explosive analyses of the satellite industry as it stands today, nor could have guessed his conclusions and speculation for the future of the industry as a whole.

Phil began by examining satellite TV revenue trends since 2000, highlighting the gentle decline in growth in years 2012 peaking at just under $100bn pa in 2015, and showing an inevitable downturn from 2016 to today. This is a trend which will shows no sign of reversing!

We read endlessly about the ‘next big thing’ in the satellite world, such as aeronautical, maritime, M2M/IoT et al .. but… and this is a big BUT… each of these elements is only expected to grow to $10bn in the next 10 years. This represents only around 10% of satellite TV revenues and is clearly not a replacement for the projected loss over that period. Moreover, neither HTS (and certainly not LEO) is geared up for DTH satellite TV.

The presentation was as hard hitting as it was eloquent and supported by data from the world’s best and most respected marketing research companies. A good barometer of the state of the industry is revenue generated by the satellite operators. – and satellite operator revenue world-wide is expected to be down by some 38% by the end of 2018 over what would have been nominal growth since 2011.

The knock-on effect of this means that commercial GEO orders are much reduced – which could be explained by the introduction of HTS and LEO constellations. However, the overall long-term trend in commercial GEO satellite orders shows a significant downturn to end of 2018. It is expected that the overall impact will affect equipment manufacturing, teleport operation, and service provision for the future.

A thought provoking and articulate overview, which left a slightly stunned audience – followed by a very interesting discussion and debate.