Are satellite broadband and 5G friends or foes?

Iris Harel

24 Mar 2021

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When 5G and satellite broadband collide, we'll see competition but also new opportunities. Iris Harel explains.

Satellite communications (SATCOM) or “the space industry,” has undergone a fundamental transformation led by companies such as SpaceX and Amazon , with their trailblazing technological development and introduction into the domain of new business paradigms . For these players to ensure their efforts provide a genuine return on investment, I believe there are several growth opportunities on which they should focus. Examples include providing broadband in unserved and underserved locations; industrial IoT offerings for smart cities; utilities; as well as satellite backhaul for cellular, which can be leveraged by mobile network operators.

Yet, SATCOM providers should also take heed from the lessons learned by new broadband delivery providers – such as those who offered balloon-based connectivity – which were shut down after failing to identify sustainable business models. To ensure they do not fall into the same trap, and at the same time seamlessly integrate into the global telecom and IT ecosystems, I believe SATCOM players need to make massive investments. And if they’re successful, it will lead to a more widespread connected society that levels the playing field in critical areas like digital inclusion.

Crucially, while this is all happening, 5G will continue to grow at a rapid pace. While this will provide increased competition, it’s also an opportunity for the ecosystem as a whole to offer a combination of both technologies to better serve enterprise and B2B customers.

Better together?

Let’s consider two important points. Firstly, satellite providers are stepping up efforts to achieve extremely low levels of latency (and if companies such as Starlink can reach levels of ~20 ms, it will be a real gamechanger). Secondly, we know the cost of rolling out fiber or 5G in rural and sub-rural areas does not justify the return on investment. For these reasons combined, providing services such as broadband, Internet of Things (IoT), and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) via satellite represent an appealing, cost-effective proposition, representing a massive win for all involved parties.

As an example, the satellite backhaul could serve as a backup to the cellular network. In turn, new technologies being developed by AST-Science will enable existing 4G/5G devices to work seamlessly with satellite and traditional networks, thereby completely changing the rules of the communication & media industry.

Where Amdocs can help bring it all together

Amdocs is at the forefront of 5G technology, with our products and services providing design, order & orchestration capabilities, inventory, and above all, automation across the board. We also have partnerships with over 350 communications & media service providers worldwide, in addition to cloud hyperscalers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

Leveraging our experience, we can introduce SATCOM operators to an extensive array of carriers and partners to reduce time to market in areas like business enablement, service monetization and network design, while providing them with a carrier-grade B/OSS ecosystem, with minimal costs, plug-and-play technology and zero interruptions to operations.

Without a doubt, the future will see both collaboration and competition between SATCOM and 5G technology. By finding the right mix between the two, the whole industry will benefit, with higher returns on investment, a high-quality customer experience and increased customer satisfaction.

About the author: Iris Harel is Sales Leader, IC&M Division, Amdocs


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