What Opportunities Await with Satellite NTN Mobile?

The following is a sample from our The Role of Satellite in 5G: Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN) Mobile research report, which provides an overview of how Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) mobile will facilitate new business and consumer use cases.

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Market Overview

  • Through The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 17, there has been progress in integrating satellite or Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTNs) with terrestrial cellular network infrastructure. These developments have unlocked two new service segments: Internet of Things-NTN (IoT-NTN) and New Radio-NTN (NR-NTN), which leverage satellites as repeaters and, eventually, as base stations to connect directly to mobile phones or other wireless devices.
  • These services not only fill the role of traditional satphones, but also enable wireless devices to address service continuity, service ubiquity, and service scalability issues of current terrestrial connections.
  • The NTN mobile segment is anticipated to generate service revenue of US$18 billion by 2031, with a 2024 to 2031 Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 59%. Revenue growth will be primarily driven by the introduction of NR-NTN services as a premium satellite-to-mobile device service in 2026.
  • Consumer vehicles, such as Tesla, Mercedes, BMW, etc., are also expected to adopt NTN services for mobile emergencies, messaging, voice, and data communications. By 2031, more consumer-focused broadband services (NR-NTN) will account for 58% of total revenue and will co-evolve alongside NB-NTN services as a more premium-positioned segment.
  • The NTN mobile segment’s revenue is anticipated to be driven by the North American, Asia-Pacific, and European markets. Factors driving revenue in these regions are their higher Average Revenue per User (ARPU) and their rural/remote geography, which increases the likelihood of dead zones.

“The progression of NTN services and standards has the capacity to revolutionize the telecommunications sector, offering all-encompassing coverage and eradicating areas with no connectivity.” – Andrew Cavalier, Industry Analyst at ABI Research


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Key Decision Items

Consumer Smartphone as a Satphone

With the integration of satellites into the 5G ecosystem, users looking to connect via satellite would be able to use a consumer smartphone instead of a dedicated satphone. Conventional calling or high-bandwidth data streaming would not be available just yet though, because at its current stage, satellite networks can only support IoT-NTN on a mass scale. With IoT-NTN, the initial wave of satellite-to-mobile smartphones will focus on low data rate text messaging with the primary goal of servicing emergencies (see the whitepaper, The Ascending Satellite NTN Market, to learn more).

New Possibilities with NR-NTN

Smartphone-based satellite connectivity would be expected to move beyond emergency services with the increasing capacity of satellite networks for NR-NTN in the coming years. NR-NTN enables higher cellular data rates that can support video calls, social media, and other applications. We believe this capability will unlock a plethora of exciting new opportunities for consumer, enterprise, and industrial applications as reliable connectivity becomes available everywhere for smartphones, IoT devices, and vehicles.

NTN Connectivity to Support Autonomous Vehicles

Satellites can offer reliable high-speed broadband access to connected vehicles in remote areas, which is critical for the deployment of autonomous driving and providing advanced mapping and navigation, weather updates, traffic information, and emergency services. The use of satellite connectivity has the potential to revolutionize the automotive industry, improve safety, and enhance the driving experience of autonomous vehicles.

Extending Coverage for MNOs

Satellite connectivity can transform the telecoms industry by linking consumer smartphones to the telco network. AST SpaceMobile, Lynk, and Starlink have partnerships with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to provide Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G and 5G broadband services from satellites to unmodified consumer smartphones. This allows MNOs to expand their cellular broadband coverage in regions with poor or no coverage and to eliminate cellular dead zones.

Key Market Players to Watch

Dig Deeper for the Full Picture

Gain a richer understanding of the NTN mobile market opportunity by downloading ABI Research’s The Role of Satellite in 5G: Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN) Mobile report. Not only will you learn how satellite NTN is going to transform the telecommunications industry, but you’ll come away with a glimpse at all the industry players—from satellite operators to smartphone manufacturers, and from chipset vendors to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).

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This report is part of ABI Research’s Satellite Communications and 5G & Mobile Network Infrastructure research services.