Aircraft Cabin Management

Report highlights the growing market for IFE antennas

photo_camera Antenna market projected to grow (File photo)

Market intelligence provider Valour Consultancy has published a report which evaluates the market for flat panel antennas developed to support comms-on-the-move applications in aviation as well as maritime and land mobility. The study, titled – The Future of Flat Panel Antennas – 2023, reveals that after years of hype, hardware shipments are now ramping up as several manufacturers transition from a state of pure design and development to being production-ready. The timing couldn’t be better as capacity owners activate services from satellites positioned in both low earth orbit (LEO) and medium earth orbit (MEO).

According to the report’s author, Daniel Welch, the recent growth in non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) capacity is a key driver that will positively influence demand for flat panel antennas, underpinning projections that vendors will ship approximately 100,000 units between 2021 and 2030. “There’s a fundamental link between next generation flat panel antennas and LEO and MEO constellations, with the former required to effectively track satellites over the horizon and to truly realise the benefits of multi-orbit connectivity. The capacity ingredient had been missing, but we’re now in a very exciting period because by the end of this year, both Starlink and OneWeb will have activated global LEO services and the other influential player in this story, SES, will have launched its second generation MEO service, O3b mPOWER.”

Collaboration has always been vital for growth in the SATCOM industry and the flat panel antennas market is no exception. Many vendors in this space began as start-ups, searching for any level of commitment to sustain development efforts but with little-to-no direct access to end-users. Fortunately, the competitive environment has matured significantly in the last 2-3 years, in parallel to the commercialisation of LEO and MEO constellations. Whilst Starlink has developed mobility variants of its own broadband antenna to support a successful foray into the maritime and commercial aviation segments, OneWeb has gone with an entirely different approach, carefully selecting third party hardware manufacturers that it hopes will deliver the best experience for customers. To date, the list of preferred vendors for OneWeb includes Ball Aerospace (via STELLAR BLU), Get SAT, Hughes, Intellian and Kymeta. SES, meanwhile, has selected flat panel antennas from ALL.SPACE, Get SAT and Viasat.

“The opportunities for flat panel antenna vendors to forge partnerships with highly influential capacity owners is forecast to expand from here. I see OneWeb and SES adding further solutions and Telesat looks like outsourcing the hardware stack to third parties too. The door is also still open for Amazon Kuiper to do the same in the mobility space.” Welch concludes.

As for which verticals represent the low hanging fruit for flat panel antennas, Valour’s report projects a large share of demand to come from the maritime sector, where thousands of vessels have already installed Starlink’s LEO-only antenna. But the military and commercial aero sectors are expected to become the most lucrative, with end-users willing to pay for robust and reliable connectivity as part of multi-orbit networks.


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