Last week SATCOM Frontier spoke with Claude Rousseau, Senior Analyst at NSR Research about government and military SATCOM requirements. That question is the focus of a free webinar being offered by NSR this Wednesday, 3/12. If you would like to attend, you can register here.
Thank you for speaking with SATCOM Frontier. Please give a little background on yourself, and NSR.
NSR is the leading telecom market research firm for the satellite industry, offering research, consulting and advisory services. We’ve been helping global clients ‘stay ahead of the curve’ for over a decade now.
As Senior Analyst at NSR, I perform market research and consulting on government and military satellites, mobile satellite services and Earth observation markets. My career as a consultant is now over a decade old. I received a Bachelor in physics and astrophysics from the University of Calgary and a Master of Space Studies at the International Space University.
How do you see the current and projected state of government/military satcom demand?
Let’s distinguish between the short-term, which is quite fluid, uncertain and complex, and the long-term reality that government customers of commercial satellite capacity will not go away.
If we look at the past 15 years, the bandwidth per person required for U.S. personnel during military operations has grown almost 10,000%! Yes, that percentage is correct — a 100-fold increase or two orders of magnitude greater. At the same time, the number of troops deployed grew only 200%.
This means there has been a lot more bandwidth growth per person than personnel growth. At NSR we believe that even if military planners use optimization techniques to save on satellite bandwidth, the continuing growth will require more Satcom capacity from high-throughput satellites in the not-too -distant future.
How do you see the U.S. military pivot to Asia Pacific playing out in terms of Satcom requirements?
This region is very complex and the asymmetric threat environment of today’s geopolitical landscape brings much uncertainty, requiring more flexibility. In this landscape, the U.S. shift in its military strategy towards Asia will see demand for satellite capacity move in the same direction.
The South China Sea, North Korea, the Malacca Strait, and the Sea of Japan are the major areas of concern, but elsewhere in Asia there also could be hotspots developing due to territorial disputes, piracy, nuclear arms threats, conflicts with insurgents or drug interdiction. Additionally, maritime resources such as fishing or offshore oil and gas development are major sources of disagreement in the region.
Will there be enough commercial capacity to support future demand, until the next generation of military constellations comes online?
NSR believes that commercial satellite operators are well-positioned to address this demand. They are able to replace and relocate their satellites to address surge in demand in a very short time. Intelsat and SES have done this in the past and NSR believes there is very little to prevent them from doing this again. It will take some effort but with new as well as replacement satellites, and given our demand estimates for the region, we feel commercial satellite capacity can meet demand for most coverage zones and for most applications.
What are some ways in which government and industry can better coordinate to maintain American Satcom superiority in space?
Hosted payloads and ‘quick-deploy’ satellite programs are very promising. Both offer the realistic objective of launching capacity on short turnaround terms with a relatively small budget. In terms of proprietary military capacity, co-sharing such as the WGS-9 arrangement involving multiple countries and stakeholders could be implemented as well, although this could take longer to plan, coordinate and launch compared to purely commercial options.