Pictured from left to right: Nathan de Ruiter, managing director, Euroconsult Canad;a Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO, Viasat Inc.; Pierre-Jean Beylier, CEO, Speedcast; Pradman P. Kaul, president and CEO, Hughes Network Systems; and Kevin Steen, CEO, iDirect Technologies. Credit: SpaceNews/Brian Berger

PARIS — The requirement for higher and higher bandwidth will remain the major driver shaping future satellite infrastructure and services in the next five years, according to Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO of Viasat.

Speaking Sept. 12 at the World Satellite Business Week here, Dankberg said that terabit-capable satellites like the Viasat3 satellite it is building with Boeing, are more responsive to customer expectations than forthcoming low-Earth-orbit mega-constellations emphasizing lower latency than geostationary satellites.

“Our customer want more bandwidth, they want to be able to stream video,” Dankberg said.  “We have done studies when we asked customers what would affect their willingness to pay for a service and we found that latency has the least impact.”

Lower latencies are a major strength of mega-constellations such as the 648-spacecraft fleet of broadband satellites being developed by OneWeb, whose aggressive timetable and a $1.2 billion investment led by Japan’s SoftBank is sending anticipatory shock waves through the industry.

Dankberg was one of five industry leaders on a panel discussing next-generation satellite infrastructure and services.

Luigi Pasquali, CEO of Rome-headquartered Telespazio, agreed that terabit satellites help drive down cost and price for the customer, allowing satellite telecommunications providers to finally compete with traditionally cheaper ground-based telecommunications. However, Luigi said that low-Earth-orbit mega-constellations would likely have a more disruptive effect on the industry.

Pierre-Jean Beylier, CEO of Australia-based Speedcast, said that while low-Earth-orbit mega-constellations represent a revolution in the sector, their actual impact on the market and value for customers remain to be seen.

“The strongest point of the satellite industry is reliability, our systems are more reliable than terrestrial systems,” Beylier said. “The new systems are less reliable than the good old C-band.”

According to Kevin Steen, CEO of iDirect Technologies, the industry in the future will require interoperability solutions that would enable ground-based terminals to switch smoothly between terrestrial 5G networks, LEO, MEO and GEO satellites, ensuring smooth user experience.

Steen said the introduction of flat antennas has the potential to further revolutionize the industry by driving down the cost of small satellite constellations.

Tereza Pultarova is a London-based science and technology journalist and video producer, covering European space developments for SpaceNews. A native of the Czech Republic, she has a bachelors degree in journalism from the Charles University,...