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Competition in the VSAT market leads to the development of marine satellite communications

The article considers the current state of affairs in the maritime satellite communications market and forecasts Euroconsult specialists for the next 10 years.
Increasing consumer demand, a new generation of satellite technology and increasing competition among operators may result in VSAT services occupying about 70% of the maritime satellite communications market in less than 10 years, experts at Euroconsult say.


The maritime satellite communications market has undergone significant changes over the past few years, among which the emergence and popularization of offshore VSAT services, which provided high throughput and, as a result, a number of new opportunities at sea, which could not be previously discussed, are particularly notable .

This era is not yet complete. Other major changes are expected in this industry: for example, the beginning of the use of HTS-satellite systems in the maritime sector, which will make it possible to take another step towards expanding telecommunications capabilities on ships.

In the medium term, the appearance of new players in this market is also expected. So, Google plans to launch 180 satellites into low Earth orbit, which can also affect the marine sector – especially the prices and capacities of satellite terminals.

Changes will also affect the services provided: now we are witnessing the emergence of new services, including the delivery of content to ships on the high seas. A number of new satellite communications services are being developed specifically to improve the usability of ship crews: for example, the ability to watch the same channels that crew members watch at home.

Satellite operators
Historically, the marine industry has been dominated by mobile satellite services (MSS, Mobile Satellite Services). Now MSS operators still account for 67% of marine revenue at the level of satellite communications operators.

Six MSS operators operate in today’s maritime market, however, Inmarsat continues to occupy a leading position due in large part to quasi-monopoly in the 1990s. In 2013, Inmarsat accounted for 71% of offshore MSS terminals and 90% of revenue.

Iridium’s position has been greatly strengthened in the maritime business over the past few years thanks to the improvement of the network and the release of several terminals designed specifically for the marine industry. At the moment, Iridium takes the second place in terminals – 8%.

The growing popularity of VSAT systems has led to a number of Fixed Satellite Services (FSS) operators in the maritime industry strengthening their position. Many operators have their own marine businesses, including four global FSS operators – Intelsat, SES, Telesat and Eutelsat.

Global xpress
Another important project is Inmarsat’s Global Xpress, which will launch high-speed data services on the maritime market in the Ka-band. Launching these services can blur the boundaries between MSS and FSS operators.

Marine VSAT Market
In 2013, the top 3 VSAT service providers — KVH, Inmarsat Solutions, and Airbus D&S — held approximately 50% of the marine VSAT market together. Top 10 – about 83%.

The business model of VSAT service providers is based on packages for a fixed price per month, and in order to keep up with the VSAT market, MSS providers, which until recently sold airtime, began to offer fixed-price service packages.

2023: 73% of the market – in VSAT
Based on the high demand for data transmission, Euroconsult specialists expect a serious increase in the share of VSAT terminals in the marine satellite communications market in the next decade. This demand relates to three main categories of services: communications related to shipping safety; professional communication of ships; entertainment for the crew.

It is predicted that in 2023 the revenue of service providers in the maritime market will reach approximately $ 2.1 billion, and 70% of this amount will be accounted for by VSAT, and the remaining 30% will be accounted for by MSS services.

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