© SpaceX (for illustration purposes only)
Business | September 08, 2021
In the global satellite market, LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellites currently hold the greatest advantage in terms of development potential due to their closer proximity to Earth and relatively lower latency, radiation and cost per share. compared to HEO (High Earth Orbit) and MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) satellites, according to TrendForce.
In addition, LEO satellites not only do not need base stations, but can also receive signals in hard-to-reach and rural areas. As their signal coverage is not limited by geographic features such as mountainous regions, oceans and deserts, LEO satellites can synergize with 5G mobile communications by reaching areas without 5G coverage. After SpaceX garnered a lot of attention for LEO satellites, a growing number of satellite operators have successively requested to launch their own satellites. TrendForce expects annual satellite revenue for 2022 to reach $ 295 billion, an increase of 3.3% year-on-year.
With the participation of Europe, the United States, China, Japan and Korea in the development of the LEO satellite and 5G, challenges remain regarding costs and long-term prospects.Regarding the deployment of LEO satellites by country, Asian countries, including China, stand out from other large countries in terms of primary applications. While non-Asian countries generally adopt LEO satellites for commercial purposes, Asian countries are mainly orienting their deployment towards “national security” objectives. Major developments in national security applications include AviChina’s Hong Yun Project and CASC’s Hongyan Constellation, both of which are expected to complete periodic missions in 2022. Although policies relating to China’s satellite industry are defined by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the industry itself is regulated by the Radio Association of China. In Japan, NTT DoCoMo is overseeing the development of 6G communication, with an emphasis on NTN technology, which works in tandem with LEO satellites. Finally, the Korean MSIT recently unveiled its “6G R&D Implementation Plan”, which includes the launch of 14 LEO satellites by 2031. Between LEO satellites and 5G telecommunications, the European and American markets are leading the way. priority to 5G ground telecommunications and finalize the release of all frequency ranges of the 5G spectrum. While the number of ground stations and residents located in areas with 24.75-25.25 GHz frequency bands is limited, LEO satellites take responsibility for preventing signal disturbances. On the other hand, some European organizations, such as ESA and the European Commission, have created the SaT5G (Satellite and Terrestrial Network for 5G) consortium in order to advance the application and integration between satellite and 5G communications. . In the current infancy of the industry, major satellite operators have launched over a thousand small LEO satellites. Given the lifespan of these satellites of less than five years, operators will most likely focus on low-cost manufacturing and launch solutions to minimize CAPEX, thereby accelerating the pace of satellite adoption and reducing the overall cost of satellites. Specifically, not only are SpaceX and Amazon respectively engaged in vertical integration and streamlined their corporate structures, but they are also aligned with customer demands ranging from businesses, governments and consumers. Thanks to these efforts, SpaceX and Amazon have effectively reduced the costs associated with working with other vendors.
Satellite recycling and space materials are two major sources of ancillary revenue for the LEO satellite industry3GPP recently announced that it will finalize version 17, which will include NTN (non-terrestrial networks) for the first time, in 2022. Before that, mobile communications and satellite communications were two separate industries, developing independently. This is why the companies working in the two sectors in upstream, middle and downstream supply were also generally different. Once 3GPP includes NTN in its next release, the two sectors should generate more opportunities for collaboration. Currently, Tesla’s subsidiary SpaceX has requested the launch of the most satellites among all satellite operators, including Amazon, Britain-based OneWeb, and Canada-based Telesat, among others. In particular, American operators have launched more than 1,000 satellites, which represents more than 50% of the world total. Transmission and reception of signals between satellites and ground stations is relatively limited. As such, four major satellite technologies, including collision prevention, management, communications and ground-to-satellite transmission, represent four major areas in which potential suppliers can participate. However, given the intense competition among satellite operators, once the deployment of LEO satellites reaches a global scale in the future, issues such as light pollution could begin to negatively affect research in planetary and other astronomy. TrendForce therefore believes that companies capable of supplying materials that can reduce the reflectivity of satellites are likely to experience considerable growth in the future. In addition, the lifespan of small LEO satellites of less than five years will also lead to space debris problems. Therefore, the efficient recycling of satellites on Earth is another potential business opportunity in the space industry.
Starlink is partnering with Taiwanese telecommunications companies for the first time and is expected to expand the service areas of these companies from ground stations.One of the problems associated with LEO satellites today is the difficulty for ground station antennas to track satellite signals. Thus, Taiwanese companies mainly specialized in the construction of base stations are therefore likely to benefit from potential partnerships with LEO satellite operators. Although satellite-related companies in Taiwan have traditionally focused on manufacturing equipment and components for MEO and HEO satellites, the boom in the LEO market has now convinced these companies (including MTI, WNC, Kinpo, UMT, Tong Hsing, GPI, WIN, Chicony, EMC, Compeq and Shenmao) to become the providers of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet system. Having learned of the strategic position of Taiwan which links North Asia to Southeast Asia, the American company SpaceX contacted the National Communications Commission (NCC) of Taiwan and Chunghwa Telecom, the latter confirming by the following its partnership with SpaceX. Chunghwa Telecom is now looking to extend this partnership to a global business relationship that goes beyond base stations. As Starlink Internet service is expected to be available in Taiwan next year, Chunghwa Telecom will become the sole distributor of Starlink in Taiwan. Now that SpaceX has launched more than 1,800 satellites, Chunghwa Telecom will likely facilitate the increase in Internet connection speed for Starlink through its 18,000 base stations located across Taiwan, which work in synergy with the satellites for better coverage and more complete.