Report: Satellite-enabled 5G mobile networks could reach market value of $18 billion

Technology intelligence firm ABI Research says integrating non-terrestrial network (NTN) connectivity into the 5G mobile ecosystem has the potential to reach a market value of $18 billion by 2031.

Following the release of 3GPP Release 17, which integrated NTN connectivity into the 5G cellular ecosystem, the satellite-to-mobile market has “gained significant momentum,” ABI said.

Companies such as Apple, Qualcomm, Huawei and others have formed strategic partnerships within the mobile and satellite industries. These collaborations have also reached beyond to include mobile network operators seeking to expand their network coverage, such as US-based telecom operator T-Mobile, which is partnering with SpaceX/Starlink to provide satellite-to-mobile services.

The emergence of satellite-enabled mobile devices from consumer smartphone and chipset makers such as Apple and Motorola “indicates the upcoming introduction of satellite communications into the mainstream consumer market,” said ABI Satellite Communications Research Analyst Victor Xu.

He noted that while recently announced satellite services will initially prioritise low data rate communications through Internet of Things-NTN technology, satellite networks are expected to incorporate New Radio-NTN, a 5G-based, more advanced communication standard, in the next few years. That will boost capacity and network capabilities, allowing for more concurrent users and applications with higher data rates, and creating more use cases for satellite connectivity.

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