Satellite 5G revenues on course to hit $18 billion by 2031

Communication network above Earth for global business and finance digital exchange. Internet of things (IoT), blockchain, smart connected cities, futuristic technology concept. Satellite view.

Analyst firm ABI Research is predicting stellar growth for the 5G non-terrestrial network (NTN) market.

Late last week it said it expects global service revenues will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 59% between 2024 and 2031, by which time they will have reached $18 billion. ABI Research reckons those service revenues will be generated by some 200 million connections.

“The emergence of satellite-enabled mobile devices from major consumer smartphone manufacturers and chipset makers like Apple, Qualcomm, Motorola, MediaTek, Huawei, and ZTE indicates the upcoming introduction of satellite communications into the mainstream consumer market,” said Victor Xu, satellite communications research analyst at ABI Research.

However, “while exciting advancements are underway in satellite-to-mobile technology, it is important to note that the recently announced satellite services will initially prioritise low data rate communications through IoT-NTN technology,” he said.

Indeed, much has been made recently of mobile operators cutting direct-to-device (D2D) deals with low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite providers like Lynk and Starlink. Rogers in Canada, and the big three New Zealand operators Spark, 2degrees and One, spring to mind. However, it’s worth noting that the actual services being trialled are very basic, like emergency SMS, for example.

Similarly on the OEM side, Apple’s iPhone 14 supports satellite connectivity, for instance, but it is pitched specifically for one-way, emergency communication. White label rugged phone maker Bullitt’s smartphones also offer satellite as a back-up connectivity option for emergency use.

2026 is expected to be the tipping point. This is the year when ABI sees the widespread launch of 5G new radio (NR) NTN services, which will support higher-bandwidth services and a greater number of concurrent users.

In addition to smartphones, ABI expects to see steady adoption of NR-NTN connectivity by car makers, for the purposes of messaging, voice and data connectivity as well as emergency comms.

Separate forecasts by satellite research firm Northern Sky Research (NSR) give some idea as to what the demand for cellular NTN connectivity means for the broader ecosystem.

In a report published last month, NSR predicted that the number of launches between 2022 and 2032 will reach a staggering 32,500. Demand is being driven by heavy cargo and manned missions – including new excursions to the moon – but also the LEO comms market.

“Constellations are in high demand for ‘always-on’, global, responsive connectivity. As a result, manufacturing has increased in scale, thanks to standardisation, and launch has grown more competitive,” noted NSR principal analyst Dallas Kasaboski.

The research outfit expects the satellite manufacturing and launch market to generate cumulative revenues of $598 billion over the forecast period.


Get the latest news straight to your inbox. Register for the newsletter here.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.