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Satellite Operators Race Ahead of the Recession; Score Big in 2008 and On Track for Strong 2009

9/30/09 - According to NSR's new report, "Global Assessment of Satellite Supply & Demand (GASD), 6th Edition," commercial satellite operators saw a very good year in 2008 with revenues up substantially. More importantly, most satellite operators have yet to report any substantial damage from the global economic crisis and, assuming recovery is solidly in place by the end of 2009, it appears that they will largely escape unscathed.

There is still some risk because satellite capacity leasing is historically a trailing indicator of economic strength, yet the majority of the business is built on TV watching, and this market has only increased in the last year.

Beyond TV, NSR noted some cases of slowing sales cycles such as for corporate VSAT networking services, but this tends to be offset by growth in other segments like backhaul or government leasing. In fact, there will likely be a spike in demand in the 2010 to 2011 time period in many markets as new capacity becomes available and the improving business climate leads to re-launching of delayed spending or investment for future growth. NSR also continues to track developments in the satellite broadband Internet access services segment, which could lead to a major shift in how parts of the market are seen in the future, as well as other services like maritime, aeronautical and other mobility services.

There is a substantial change in this "Global Assessment of Satellite Supply & Demand (GASD), 6th Edition" study that illustrates how NSR is constantly innovating and making every effort to include the most informed and representative analysis of actual market conditions in its studies. Starting from this edition, NSR now includes a complete and detailed assessment of demand for High Throughput Satellite (HTS) capacity in parallel to the traditional FSS C-band, Ku-band and Ka-band markets previously addressed.

NSR defines an HTS as any satellite or satellite payload that has at least twice (though usually many times more) the throughput of a traditional FSS satellite for the same amount of allocated frequency on orbit. These satellites can use either Ku-band or Ka-band frequencies to provision a service and almost exclusively make use of frequency reuse and multiple spot beams to increase throughput and reduce the price per bit delivered. Further, the cost of the ground equipment/customer premise equipment for an HTS-based service should not be a barrier to HTS capacity being substituted for FSS capacity for any commercial satellite application addressed in this study.

Adding together commercial C-, Ku- and Ka-band transponder demand, NSR estimates that about 5,130 TPEs (36 MHz transponder equivalents) of capacity were leased on the global market in 2008, and this will increase at the average annual rate of 2.2% and reach more than 6,370 TPEs in the next ten years. In addition, about 16 Gbps of commercial HTS capacity was leased in 2008, and this should increase more than ten-fold by 2018. The entirety of this commercial leasing is believed to have generated some US$9.1 billion in revenues for satellite operators in 2008 and could well increase by half reaching US$13.8 billion by 2018.

The "Global Assessment of Satellite Supply & Demand (GASD), 6th Edition" study is a multi-client report now available from NSR. The GASD 6th Edition study has become an industry standard for the independent analysis of drivers and restraints on the commercial satellite capacity leasing market. NSR maintains its rigorous methodology of rebuilding its entire transponder and capacity supply and demand forecast from the ground up each year for the commercial satellite market to ensure that its forecast projections capture the latest trends in the market.

More than 300 separate supply and demand forecasts have been performed in order to provide one of the most granular and detailed evaluations of demand for commercial FSS/BSS C-, Ku- and Ka-band satellite transponder capacity as well as leased commercial HTS capacity for seven specific satellite applications in twelve distinct regional markets.

By Robert Hoskins

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