“It is hard to predict, especially the future” a wry commentator once said, and that is certainly true of the arena of telecommunications in general, and of satellite communications in particular. Specific predictions (especially those expensive market reports), should always be taken with several kilograms, not grains, of salt. Furthermore, market predictions and projections should always be considered, at best, valid only when made. They are continually subject to change. In a field as dynamic and even turbulent as telecommunications, many caveats are in order.
Consider the previous decade. In the 1990s, huge demands were predicted for mobile satellite telephony, as was a shortage of launch vehicles and consequently of insurance underwriting capacity. Contrary to that the mobile systems went bust, telecommunications crashed, and today we are oversupplied with both transponder capacity and launcher capacity. On the other hand, no one at the time was predicting demands for Internet via satellite, which is happening now.
Nevertheless, we can try to discern some of the present trends, issues, and concerns that will influence the industry over the first decade of the new century. These can simplistically be categorized into technical issues, business issues, and political (or regulatory) issues. Of course, there is much overlap and interaction among them.
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