The Satellite Market | ESA’s ARTES Programmes

The satellite telecommunication industry is, by far, the most important space sector for the European satellite manufacturing industry, representing more than 60% of satellite activities in Europe. The health of the global satellite telecommunications market is determined by the sustainability and continuity of the European space industry. This is evident from a number of established facts:

  • Of the 82 satellites launched by Ariane-5 by the end of 2008, 62 of them were telecommunication satellites. In fact, between Jan 2005 and Dec 2008, Ariane-5 has placed 40 telecom satellites in orbit and only two non-telecom payloads.
  • Of the 155 satellites successfully launched by Ariane-4 in the course of its operation, 139 were telecommunications satellites. 
  • The annual revenue accrued from the lease of the approximately 8400 FSS and DBS (36 MHz equivalent) transponders in orbit is more than $8.8 billion US, i.e. around 6.85 billion Euro. The revenue produced by Mobile Satellite Systems exceeds 1500 million Euro.
  • The average number of telecommunication satellites launched per year in the 1990s was 23, while the estimated average for the first decade of the 21st centruy is around 20. This figure is reflected in the turnover figures of satellite manufacturers and launch providers.
  • 60% of the revenue of the European space industry (5 billion Euro) stems from the manufacture and launch of communications satellites.
  • The ground-segment industry has a turnover of $30 billion US.
  • The revenue produced downstream by satellite-driven services exceeds $60 billion US.

Market perspectives

Over the last few years, the transponder occupancy of the main satellite operators have improved drastically, causing a rise in new satellite orders. In 2006, 27 satellites were ordered. This was followed by 20 orders in 2007. In 2008 this figure reached 25. Two thirds of the new capacity will be dedicated to replace satellites that will have reached the end of their operational life. The remaining third constitutes growth of existing services and the emergence of new systems.

European industry has managed to retain a market share of about 40% of the space segment. However, the technical and commercial pressure from both USA manufacturers and new space powers obliges European industry to maintain a high level of competence and innovation.

In addition to the relatively mature market for fixed and broadcast satellite services, other satellite communications services are evolving very swiftly.

Mobile satellite services are in constant evolution. Inmarsat completed the deployment of their fourth generation satellites with the successful launch of Inmarsat IV F3 in 2008. This system will be complemented and extended with the deployment of the ESA-supported Alphasat satellite. Other advanced regional systems have also been announced in the USA underlining the perspectives of substantial growth in the mobile sector.

Several systems have been developed to broadcast radio and television from satellite directly to car mounted receivers or even handheld devices. The combined XM-Sirius operation now boasts nearly 20 million subscribers. In Europe several systems will be implemented following the concessions that the EC will grant for services in S Band.

New broadband systems are also planned to provide Internet access by satellite. This is already possible using general purpose Ku Band transponders mainly designed to broadcast television. But a new generation of multi-spot Ka-Band satellites bring about much more efficient delivery, improving the price performance by one to two orders of magnitude, and much larger capacities.
Currently two Ka Band systems operate in the US (WildBlue and Spaceway) while in Europe two other Ka Band systems are in the advanced stages of development: HYLAS of Avanti and KaSat of Eutelsat. At the same time the cost of the user terminals have been reduced allowing service offerings in the same range of price and performance of competing terrestrial systems.

The Institutional sector

The TIA ARTES Programme actively promotes the benefits of satcom solutions, identifying potential areas of application and then demonstrating how these applications can be converted to sustainable solutions to suit the needs of our society and the requirements of our Institutions.

In this context, ESA is working with Eurocontrol and the Single European Sky ATM Research Programme (SESAR) consortium to design and demonstrate a satellite-based system that will complement the terrestrial evolution of the planned Air Traffic Management system of the future.

Further, TIA foresees the implementation of a European Data Relay Satellite system that will enhance the performance of Earth observation systems by allowing the delivery of data gathered in quasi real time.

Finally, a wide range of applications that integrate several sets of space resources will be able to address a number of areas of great importance to society: Health, Safety, Transport, Energy and Development will be undertaken under the Integrated Applications Initiative.