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Satellite-to-cell services won't scale despite growth: analyst

  • 2 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 30 Jan 2023
  • Last modified 30 Jan 2023
This year will see continued significant growth for LEO deployments but much hyped satellite-to-cellular services won't scale despite growth, says ABI Research.

Low Earth Orbit (LEO) will continue to see significant growth and deployment of constellations from the communications sector. With around 3 to 4 launches made every month in 2022 and about 50 satellites per deployment launch, ABI expects at least 1,800 to 2,400 new LEO satellites to come online next year.

ABI Research forecasts that subscribers using LEO satellite services will reach 2.4 million in 2023, and the global number of LEO satellites approved for deployment will reach more than 30,000 by the end of the decade (as per currently planned constellation deployments). It notes that the largest existing constellation with more than 3,500 satellites in orbit, Starlink, has received approval to launch another 7,500 Gen2 satellites before the decade is out.

However, satellite-to-cell services will not see wide-scale adoption, despite the emerging satellite-to-cell service segment is picking up momentum as players like Apple, Huawei, SpaceX, Globalstar, AST Space Mobile, and Lynk accelerating the launch of services. β€œIn its current stage, satellite-to-cell services are available for specialised applications but show upside potential in the years to come, with 2023 and likely 2024 being used to prime consumers' interest,” says the analyst firm.

ABI Research anticipates that the wider Non-Terrestrial Network-Mobile (NTN-Mobile) service segment, which includes the satellite-to-cell segment, will reach 6.8 million connections by 2027.

These are part of no less than 74 technology trends that will and will not shape 2023, according to the analyst firm, which identifies 41 trends that will shape the technology market and 33 others that, although attracting vast amounts of speculation and commentary, are less likely to move the needle over the next 12 months.

"War, inflation, political upheaval, energy shortages, and the ongoing fallout from a global pandemic are still creating a persistent sense of uncertainty. Labor shortages, supply chain issues, falling consumer sentiment, and rising input costs are squeezing many markets. However, the common aspect between all of these is that technology can either be the anchor dragging down operations or the mainsail powering companies forward. The devil is in the detail of the how, who, what, and when of technology investment and implementation. This whitepaper serves as a helpful blueprint for building realistic expectations of key technology markets and verticals," says Stuart Carlaw, Chief Research Officer at ABI Research.

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