Satellites deliver TV, broadband but could face competition from 5G

March 9, 2017

Satellite companies are scrambling to provide broadband service. Andy Pasztor in The Wall Street Journal reports that EchoStar’s Hughes Network Systems is looking to double its residential broadband subscribers. The company will offer 25-Mb/s download speeds, starting at $49.99 per month.

The new service, announced Tuesday, will make use of Hughes’s latest satellite, EchoStar XIX, launched into geostationary orbit in December. According to NASASpaceFlight, the 6,637-kilogram (14,632 lb) EchoStar XIX “carries multi-spot Ka-band transponders and is capable of producing over a hundred spot beams, providing bandwidth in excess of 150 gigabits per second.”

Hughes faces competition from high-capacity satellite company ViaSat, which plans to launch a second geostationary satellite later this year and yet another in 2019, as well as from swarms of smaller low-earth-orbit satellites, Pasztor says. OneWeb Ltd., backed by SoftBank, Airbus, and other investors, plans to launch hundreds of LEO satellites, targeted at providing fast Internet service beginning in 2019, he adds.

Meanwhile, linear TV service via satellite is predicted to be a growth market over the next decade, according to NSR’s Linear TV via Satellite, 9th Edition. As reported in Broadband TV News, the market will see more than 12,200 new channels over the next 10 years, reaching over 53,600 total by 2026, despite inroads from OTT services.

However, 5G, with 1-Gb/s data rates and 1-ms latency, could eat into the $500 billion global TV and video market currently served by satellites as well as cable, IPTV, and terrestrial broadcast service providers, according to Strategy Analytics. “The efficiency of the end-to-end network will determine whether 5G TV is possible,” said Sue Rudd, director, Service Provider Analysis, “but we have seen enough from early demonstrations by operators like Verizon, Deutsche Telekom, SK Telecom, AT&T, and BT to suggest that it will arrive sooner or later in many parts of the world.”

The CTO of TV and broadband company Liberty Global is not impressed with 5G, however. As reported by Julian Clover at Broadband TV News, Brian Nair told Cable Congress attendees, “5G has got to play itself out. The standards are not there, the handsets are not there, in our view it’s not there. It requires a huge amount of capital and when you go to the high bands you need more cells. I think people would like to see a return on 4G first.”

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