Dr Tim Farrar, president of IMF Associates, discussed the position of well-established geostationary satellite operators at the 2023 Milsat Symposium.
Geo-satellites will be resilient, but Starlink is winning the broadband connectivity battle and making 100,000 dishes per month, according to Dr Tim Farrar, president of consulting and research firm, TMF Associates.
Starlink claimed more than 2 million subscribers in September. If Farrar’s estimate of the 100,000 dish number is correct then Starlink is likely to be close to 2.5 million active users by the end of the year.
Speaking further at the 2023 Milsat Symposium (as part of the Silicon Valley Space Week), Farrar compared and contrasted the position of the well-established geostationary satellite operates such as SES, Intelsat, Eutelsat, Viasat and Telesat.
He talked about their role in supplying broadband to commercial clients, and the cost implications of these tasks. Giving the example of receive/transmit antennas, he said : A few years ago Viasat was touting 15 Petabytes [of capacity] per month. Now, SpaceX/Starlink is carrying 500PB per month. Starlink already has the majority of all satellite data traffic in the world today.
He stated that Geo operators are divided into two camps: SES and Intelsat are cooperating with Starlink or integrating with OneWeb (in Intelsats case). Referencing the recent merger between Eutelsat and OneWeb, he added that Eutelsat as well as Telesat are building enterprise-grade LEO systems to compete with Starlink.
For the vast majority of commercial users theres no need to buy specialist, multi-orbit terminals, said Farrar. Some [dish] vendors may only sell a few thousand or few hundred terminals of that type while Starlink is turning out 100,000 dishes per month.
GEO is rapidly becoming what L-band was 10 or 15 years ago. Its going to be the resilient, backup thing thats always there, guaranteed, all great, but super-expensive and limited compared to what LEO is going to do, Farrar added.