Satellite Telecom | Global Satellite Industry Continued Growth in 2013

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The global satellite services sector, driven primarily by consumer services including direct-broadcast television and radio, grew by 5 percent in 2013, to $118.6 billion in sales, according to a recent report released by the Satellite Industry Association (SIA).

The growth rate is similar to 2012 but down from previous years, the SIA said in its annual State of the Satellite Industry report, prepared by the Tauri Group consultancy and released May 19.

Revenue from the consumer services sector was $98.1 billion of the total, with traditional fixed satellite services adding $16.4 billion, the report said. Mobile services grew by 6 percent, to $2.6 billion, while remote sensing service revenue was $1.5 billion, a 16 percent increase over the year before, the report said.

Services represents the largest single sector of the global satellite industry, whose total 2013 revenue — also including manufacturing, ground systems and launch — was $195.2 billion, a 3 percent increase from the year before, the report said. Since 2004, total annual satellite industry revenues have nearly tripled, for an average growth rate of 11 percent, the report said.

On the manufacturing side, global revenue was up 8 percent, to $15.7 billion, with U.S. companies accounting for nearly $11 billion of the total.

Commercial communications satellites accounted for 29 percent of all manufacturing revenue associated with satellites launched last year, with military communications accounting for 18 percent and military surveillance adding 30 percent, the report said.

U.S. manufacturers saw their revenue increase by 33 percent in 2013, and accounted for 27 percent of the 107 satellites launched during the year. Government contracts were behind 75 percent of U.S. satellite manufacturing revenue, the report said.

Announced orders for commercial geostationary communications satellites totaled 23 during 2013, an increase of five over 2012, the report said. U.S. companies won 15 of those orders for a 65 percent market share, the report said.

Global revenue from commercially procured satellite launches, driven primarily by government demand, was $5.4 billion in 2013, a 7 percent decline compared with the previous year, the report said. This was the case even though there were more launches, 62 in 2013 compared with 59 in 2012. 

The report attributed the decline —commercial launch revenue increased 21 percent in 2012 — to a lower number of high-value launches conducted in 2013, including three fewer commercially procured Arianespace launches and just one Sea Launch mission.

Commercial satellite operators ordered 32 launches in 2013, up from 25 in 2012, the report said. Longtime commercial market leader Arianespace of Europe garnered 18 of those contracts, while U.S. companies got six — down from eight the year before — and Russian companies received four.