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Satellite telephones or Satphones, provide telecommunication connectivity through orbiting satellites, instead of conventional terrestrial cellular networks. These phones are similar to conventional phones, with the added advantage of providing uninterrupted connectivity in remote locations and in sensitive areas, where all forms of communication are subjected to censorship. These are mainly used by military personnel deployed on the field and other government agencies based in sensitive locations.

Strong network infrastructure in mission critical applications is the prominent factor driving growth of the satellite telephones market

According to New England Journal of Medicine’s Report, incidences of natural disasters have witnessed steady increase, with the global climate change, since the 1970s. These climate related calamities such as floods, storm surge, coastal flooding, tropical cyclones, and cold/heat waves apart from causing large-scale destruction, these disrupt and conventional land-based cellular networks. Growing concerns regarding these inadvertent incidences, and the necessity of preparedness in case of emergencies is expected fuel growth of the satellite telephones market. Military forces, public safety agencies and disaster management teams are expected to be the primary consumers, owing to the requirement to coordinate their activities in case of such emergencies.

Global Satellite Telephones Market Taxonomy

On the basis of type of product, the global satellite telephones market is classified into:

  • Geosynchronous
  • Low-Earth Orbit

On the basis of application, the global satellite telephones market is classified into:

  • Defense
  • Maritime
  • Aviation
  • Energy
  • Others (Public safety agencies, disaster management, and tourism)

On the basis of regions, the global satellite telephones market is classified into:

  • North America
  • Europe
  • Asia Pacific
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Africa

Technical limitations such as dead spots in the network and low voice quality are expected to be the major factor hampering the satellite telephones market growth

Satphones function on an entirely different network infrastructure through radio wave propagation. Owing to these connectivity is distorted inside the buildings or any structure where the view of the horizon is obstructed. Functioning of these products requires retracted antennas, owing to which user cannot reliably receive phone calls, when the phone is in pocket or bag packs. Moreover, calls to these phones from public networks can be very costly. Dead spots in the network, relatively lower voice quality in comparison to cellular networks, and latency are few other technological drawbacks that may negatively impact the global demands.

Growing defense expenditure will provide solid growth platform to the satellite telephones market over the forecast period

U.S. is expected to remain the most potential region for growth prospects, owing to it being the largest spender on defense. Moreover, commercial applications in the region have witnessed significant increase owing to increasing tourism to foreign remote locations in South America, Asia and Africa. Choices of prepaid and postpaid options, no roaming costs and internet enabled devices will propel the commercial consumer inclination towards these satphones market

Media, tourism and other forms of venturing business operations have witnessed significant growth in the Asia Pacific and Middle East over the past few years. Requirement to cope up with the lack of efficient conventional network coverage, expensive roaming rates, and severe government restrictions and scrutiny imposed on all forms of communication in certain countries in MEA and Asia Pacific are expected to provide substantial growth prospects for players in the global satellite telephones market. However, considering the large volume of expenditure in the sector are expected to position the defense and maritime industry as the largest end user segment over the forecast period.

Participants are increasingly investing to enhance user experience through long battery life, rugged design, and integration of navigation systems such as GPS, Glonass, BeiDou, and Galileo in the devices for increased functionality. For instance, in November 2016, Thuraya introduced its Thuraya XT PRO DUAL, that combines satellite and GSM SIM cards.

Global Satellite Telephones Market: Key Players

Key industry participants include Inmarsat, Iridium, Globalstar, TerreStar, Thuraya, Nice Trip, and SPOT Global Phone. Leading market participants are adopting off the shelf marketing strategies in order to obtain competitive edge.

Global Satellite Telephones Market: Key Developments

  • In July 2019, UbiquitiLink, a satellite startup, launched its prototype model into space with a focus on cellphone service, with the aim of placing small satellites into orbit to connect seamlessly to any mobile phone, without any changes being made to the phones themselves. The company has received investments from Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund and Blazar Ventures near about USD 12 million. The company has patented its technology which allows ordinary cellphones to use satellites like cell towers, bringing cheap messaging to millions.
  • In November 2018, Thuraya, a Russian company who manufactures satellite phones, has launched its latest model named as X5-Touch. It is the world’s smallest satellite smartphone. The new satellite smartphone has been launched in 160 countries around the world.
  • In November 2018, Roadpost USA Inc., a mobile satellite services (MSS) and equipment provider, acquired Satellite Phones Direct LLC that provides MSS to consumer and enterprise customers. It has acquired substantially all the assets of Satellite Phones Direct, including the company’s trade name, subscriber base and website.
  • In July 2018, Iridium, a satellite phone services and other communications provider, launched its latest ten satellites from the American company’s second-generation network into orbit which was deployed by SpaceX, to offer enhanced connectivity and broadband speeds its customers in hard-to-access areas. Iridium now has 65 new NEXT satellites in the sky.
  • In May 2017, BSNL collaborated with INMARSAT, a London-based satellite services company to provide satellite-based telecom services across the nation. BSNL and Inmarsat opened a new Indian GSPS gateway which uses Inmarsat’s fourth-generation constellation to provide satellite phone services.

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