- CCS Insight’s new Spotlight report highlights the potential scale of the direct satellite-to-device market and its impact on consumers, device-makers and network operators.
- The integration of satellite communication capabilities in mass-market smartphones marks a significant leap forward in expanding connectivity to remote areas.
- Direct satellite-to-device mobile services offer a solution to connectivity gaps in remote areas and for the 493 million people lacking mobile network coverage.
- In 2023, 92 million phones are expected to have built-in satellite messaging functionality, up from less than 2 million in 2021.
- The market is forecast to generate $18 billion in revenue by 2027 and to be available to over 4.8 billion people worldwide.
London, 6 July 2023: New research from CCS Insight brings attention to a significant development in the telecommunications industry: the integration of satellite capabilities in mass-market smartphones. The research firm’s report, Spotlight: Direct Satellite-to-Device Mobile Services, sheds light on the nascent market as basic satellite communication services reach more and more people.
The report reveals new opportunities for enhanced global connectivity, with projected growth in satellite-connected devices and the introduction of new satellite constellations that can fill connectivity gaps in remote areas.
CCS Insight forecasts that 92 million phones will have built-in satellite messaging functionality by the end of 2023, a significant rise from just under 2 million devices in 2021. This remarkable shift in accessibility is driven by Apple’s tie-up with Globalstar for the Emergency SOS feature in the iPhone 14 range, as well as Qualcomm’s partnership with Iridium, which is bringing similar capabilities to Android phones.
Satellite communication services were previously limited to a niche market of users with specialized handsets, but they are becoming available to more and more people, bringing connectivity to remote locations with limited traditional network coverage.
“Bringing satellite capabilities to mass-market smartphones marks a milestone in the telecom industry”, explains Luke Pearce, Senior Analyst at CCS Insight. “This development creates exciting opportunities for consumers, manufacturers and operators and promises to help bridge the digital divide. The projected growth in revenue and subscribers highlights the potential this integration holds for expanding connectivity options — we’re witnessing the start of a new era where satellite services become an integral part of everyday smartphones”.
According to the research firm, the integration of satellite connectivity on mobile devices will soon no longer be reliant on hardware modifications. With commercial services expected to launch later in 2023, new low-Earth-orbit satellite constellations led by AST SpaceMobile, Lynk and SpaceX will work alongside terrestrial mobile networks to provide satellite connectivity to all unmodified phones.
CCS Insight believes that initially, these enhanced satellite networks will offer basic messaging functions like Apple’s Emergency SOS service, but the capability could grow to deliver voice and data services as the constellations evolve. Network operators will be able to offer these satellite services as add-ons to existing subscription packages, catering to the growing demand for ubiquitous connectivity.
According to CCS Insight’s forecast, demand for enhanced global connectivity continues to rise. As much as 15% of global mobile subscribers are expected to own a smartphone that supports satellite messaging by 2027, and an additional 10% will benefit from satellite plans provided by their operator.
By capitalizing on revenue streams generated through operators and supplementary services, the direct-to-device satellite market is poised to amass $18 billion in revenue by 2027. This thriving market represents a vast opportunity, with an audience of over 4.8 billion people who could access satellite services through a compatible smartphone — of these, a staggering 493 million people worldwide lack any kind of mobile network coverage.
The seamless integration of satellite and terrestrial networks represents a major step forward in the accessibility of satellite connectivity — one that will help create a more interconnected and digitally inclusive world.
More information on CCS Insight’s Spotlight report on satellite capability in smartphones can be found at: https://www.ccsinsight.com/mobile-satellite-communications/.
Notes to editors
CCS Insight is a leading provider of research on the mobile technology market. This Spotlight report is part of a broader suite of research into mobile networks, including market forecasts, regular reports and updates on the latest announcements, events and news.
More details of CCS Insight’s extensive research into mobile network operators and mobile phones can be found at: https://www.ccsinsight.com/research-areas/telecom-operators/.
About CCS Insight
CCS Insight is a global analyst company focussing on current and future trends in technology. It provides comprehensive services tailored to meet the needs of individual clients, helping them make sense of the connected world. Follow @CCSInsight on Twitter or learn more at www.ccsinsight.com.
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