Fri. Sep 29th, 2023
Satellite Constellations Compete as SpaceX’s Starlink Dominates Market

The satellite constellation market is witnessing intense competition among companies like OneWeb, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, Rivada Space Networks, and SpaceX’s Starlink. Speaking at the World Satellite Business Week, Jonathan Hofeller, Vice President of Starlink Commercial Sales at SpaceX, revealed that Starlink has amassed “well over” 1.5 million subscribers, including both consumers and enterprises. The actual number of impacted individuals is believed to be even higher. This figure aligns with Starlink’s May 2021 announcement.

In a notable development, SpaceX is no longer subsidizing the cost of user terminals for its customers. The company has made significant improvements to its terminal production, allowing it to stop subsidizing the terminals, which were previously sold at $500, but now cost $599. Hofeller cited this as a positive advancement.

SES, a major satellite operator, announced its partnership with Starlink to integrate the latter’s services into its offering for cruise lines. This move represents a shift in Starlink’s business model as it collaborates with another satellite operator, a first for the company. While Starlink is primarily sold through resellers and integrators like Speedcast, SES’s integration marks a significant milestone.

Amazon’s Project Kuiper, which aims to directly compete with Starlink, is set to launch its first two demonstration satellites in early October. Naveen Kachroo, Head of Product and Business Development for Project Kuiper, mentioned that the core principles of Kuiper are affordability, reliability, and flexibility. While the pricing strategy for Kuiper’s user terminals is yet to be revealed, Kachroo emphasized their high performance and affordability.

Rivada Space Networks, in collaboration with Terran Orbital, is differentiating itself by offering a wholesale approach to selling capacity and service level agreements. CEO Declan Ganley reported a multi-billion dollar pipeline of customers who prioritize service level agreements and value low latency and security.

OneWeb, which will merge with Eutelsat, remains committed to being a wholesale capacity provider. The company values its partnerships with service providers and integrators, including Hughes Network Systems and Intelsat. CTO Massimiliano Ladovaz emphasized OneWeb’s dedication to working with customers to help them grow and meet their connectivity needs.

Despite the competition, operators and potential operators remain confident in the demand for low-latency connectivity. Telesat, Riavda, and Mangata Networks are advancing their satellite constellation plans, with Telesat securing final funding for its Lightspeed project. Mangata Networks, led by CEO Brian Holz, aims to target the maritime market by providing differentiated services and universal coverage at competitive prices.

The rapidly evolving satellite constellation market is set to redefine connectivity options, with SpaceX’s Starlink leading the way and compelling competitors to innovate and differentiate themselves to capture market share.