High-speed throughput satellites (HTS) have a potentially bright future in Asia, but not as a consumer broadband play, according to satellite executives.
The value of HTS is more likely to come from its capabilities to reduce bandwidth costs, and chiefly in niche segments aimed at verticals.
For a number of years, HTS has been touted as a way for satellite players to satisfy demand for broadband connectivity in areas underserved by terrestrial broadband. But satellite executives in Asia have become increasingly skeptical of the idea of using HTS as a satellite alternative to fiber or DSL.
“When people talk about HTS, they think of the WildBlue model where it’s direct-to-home said Bill Wade, president and CEO of AsiaSat. “That’s tough to do in Asia because you have to look at where the disposable income is, and it’s primarily in the cities, which are already well covered by terrestrial services.”
Thomas Choi, founder and CEO of ABS agrees. “There’s not a market for rural Ka-band - it doesn’t exist.”
However, he added, HTS does hold promise because it addresses one of the key issues for satellite: lower bandwidth costs.
“Look at the problem that HTS solves - lowest cost per megabit for some applications,” he suggested. “There are markets where fiber is not everywhere, and it’s expensive. So there’s huge potential to roll out HTS capacity if you can figure out how to price it for those markets.”
Wade said that another possibility is vertical applications that would warrant HTS, like education, high-speed rail and aviation.
“But those really have to be driven by a government initiative,” he said. “Maybe that’s how we’ll see HTS in Asia.”
Either way, Wade added, “we’re probably not going to see significant deployments of HTS in Asia for another four to five years.”