Don’t let satellite get lost in the 5G buzz – Intelsat`


With 5G plastered on every wall, floor and door in the Fira, it can be easy to forget there are other important components in the connectivity mix.

Speaking to Jean-Philippe Gillet, GM of Intelsat’s network business, the message is relatively straight-forward; don’t forget about us, don’t forget about satellites.

“Does satellite play a prominent role in the developed markets? No,” said Gillet. “But it is important in the developing markets. We are trying to show people success in developing markets can be translated into the developed one.”

With all the euphoria surrounding 5G at this years’ event, and more generally across the last couple of years, satellite is often seen as a fall-back option, not necessarily a useful component of the connectivity mix. This is the perception which Gillet and Intelsat is attempting to change.

The idea of tomorrows digital society is one which is defined by 5G and fibre. Few other conversations are given a suitable amount of attention with these two bully boys grabbing the headlines, but satellite needs to be a consideration.

“It’s about creating a hybrid connectivity model which positions the right medium for the right application,” said Gillet.

While Gillet suggests there are eager listeners for anyone who is facing the connectivity conundrum, there are sceptics. There is somewhat of a lazy stereotype that satellite’s function should be limited to the developing markets, but Gillet is working to change this perception.

Alongside the incremental but promising progress in terms of satellite technology, the team has recently launched its next generation of satellites, EPIC. These six assets offer worldwide coverage, and the team have already signed up two prominent Asian telcos as customers, as well as one in the US. The next generation of satellites will be software defined, allowing Intelsat to move around capacity, while the company is now a fully-fledged member of the GSMA.

“We want to be sat at the table to help make connectivity decisions,” said Gillet.

Justifying the inclusion of satellite as a genuine component of the hybrid connectivity mix might be an uphill battle but considering the demands which are being placed on telcos to bridge the digital divide, there is hope.

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