Fri. Sep 29th, 2023
Direct-to-Device Satellite Connectivity Market Faces Divergent Views on Growth

While interest in providing connectivity by satellites directly to phones is growing, there is no consensus on how quickly that market will grow or even what it should be called. At a panel discussion during Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week in Paris, executives from satellite telephony service providers and new entrants in the direct-to-device market shared their views on its potential growth.

AST SpaceMobile and Lynk Global, both developing satellite constellations to offer services for existing phones, are optimistic about the market’s growth. Scott Wisniewski, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of AST SpaceMobile, stated that they have been surprised by the market interest driven by customers’ desire to stay connected.

Charles Miller, CEO of Lynk Global, believes the direct-to-device market could reach $1 billion in annual revenues in less than five years, seeing it as a significant opportunity that hinges on speed.

In contrast, Suzi McBride, COO of Iridium, expressed skepticism and expected a longer timeframe for growth. Based on Iridium’s experience in offering phone services for more than two decades, she thinks it will take a good 10 years for the market to develop fully.

Jassem Nasser, Chief Business Development Officer at Thuraya, expects the direct-to-device market to take 7-10 years to reach $1 billion in annual revenue, particularly in broadband data services that require advanced technologies and significant capital investments.

The panel also discussed the issue of naming the market. The industry has referred to it as “direct-to-device,” while engineers often use the term Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN). However, Charles Miller argued that these buzzwords are not effectively communicating the capabilities of the market to the general public. He proposed “sat-to-phone” as a more descriptive alternative.

Suzi McBride countered by stating that consumers are more focused on connectivity rather than the name of the market.