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Industry News

The Commercial Market

February 1, 2002
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The Commercial Market


Loral Skynet Marks 40th Anniversary of Telstar 1

On July 10, 2002, Loral Skynet marked the 40th anniversary of the launch of Telstar 1, the world's first active communications satellite built by Skynet's predecessors at AT&T and Bell Laboratories.

Telstar 1 was launched from Cape Canaveral aboard a Boeing Thor Delta rocket and soon thereafter broadcast the first live television signal from Andover, ME, to Goonlilly Downs, England and Pleumeur-Bodou, France. The transmission showed the American flag streaming over the Andover earth station to the sound of the "Star Spangled Banner." The same day, Telstar carried the first long distance telephone call via satellite between AT&T's then chairman, Fred Kappel, and US vice president Lyndon B. Johnson.

During its seven months in orbit, Telstar 1 dazzled the world with live images of baseball games, plays, musical performances, news broadcasts, scenes of the World's Fair in Seattle, WA, and a US Presidential news conference. More than 200 million people watched as the United States and 16 European countries exchanged numerous live video signals of national monuments and famous images, including the United Nation Building, Niagara Falls, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.

Telstar 1's technology differed from previous "passive" satellites - large reflective balloons that reflected radio signals - in that it received a signal from the ground, amplified it and sent it back to earth. The technology on Telstar 1 set the standard for all communications satellites that are in use today.

Telstar 1 had the ability to transmit either one television channel or roughly 500 simultaneous telephone calls. One of today's most advanced communications satellites, by comparison, can carry more than 500 television channels and thousands of data circuits. An experimental satellite, Telstar 1 remained in orbit for seven months, ceasing transmission in February 1963.

Since 1962, Skynet has operated 14 satellites carrying the Telstar name. Skynet is currently constructing three new satellites - Telstar 8, Telstar 13 and Estrela do Sul 1 - that will carry on the Telstar heritage.

Comparison Between Telstar 1 and One of Today's Most Powerful Satellites

 

Telstar 1

Telstar 7
(launched 9/99)

Size

Spherical -
34" dia.

18' x 18' x 102'
(deployed)

Weight at launch

171 lbs

8300 lbs

Power

15 W

10 kW
(beginning of life)

Lifespan

7 months

15+ years
(expected)

Cost

$6M

$200M (approx.)

 

Demand for Broadband Access Remains High

Broadband subscriber numbers continue to gain momentum in an effort to meet the ever-increasing demand for broadband access. Availability of broadband access will remain the biggest challenge for many regions of the world where infrastructures are not built-out or have just begun implementation. Key highlights of the broadband market include:

  • In late 2001, the total number of worldwide DSL subscribers exceeded the total number of worldwide cable modem subscribers.
  • In the US, cable modem subscribers continue to outnumber DSL subscribers by a wide margin. At the beginning of 2002, in the US, there were 7.12 M cable modem subscribers and 4.6 M DSL subscribers.
  • Other broadband technologies, such as satellite broadband, Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH), and wireless provide services to only 5 percent of total worldwide broadband subscribers.

In the US cable modem service has enjoyed almost 100 percent penetration in the residential market, while only mustering up a very small percentage of penetration in the business community. On the other hand, DSL is deploying broadband service at a much faster rate via on-line service self-installs, but certainly lacks the residential penetration of broadband that cable has managed to create. The triple play by the cable industry, providing a bundled package of voice, video and high speed access to the Internet has given them the edge, especially when compared to DSL. The triple play strategy used by the cable companies must be employed by the DSL industry for continued success in the broadband market place.

The remaining three broadband access technologies, fixed wireless, satellite and FTTH, are expected to continue competing in their own identified niche markets. Fixed wireless MMDS, (Multi-channel, Multi-point Distribution System) is on hold, waiting for those much talked about and anticipated second generation solutions that are seen as solving the high cost of truck rolls in deploying fixed wireless broadband services. LMDS (Local Multi-point Distribution System) continues to suffer from the high cost of providing broadband access, but certainly has a reasonable opportunity to continue growth in the medium and large business sectors.

The unlicensed band of fixed wireless is beginning to enjoy some rather impressive gains in the market capturing broadband subscribers, especially in the tier two and three markets using the 802.11 wireless standard. Wireless Internet Service Providers (ISP) have established themselves as the purveyors of the new 802.11 broadband to potential subscribers seeking high speed access to the Internet in cells with up to three miles of reach. To date, some 1500 wireless ISPs have established themselves as fixed wireless service providers. Each ISP has a minimum of 20 subscribers, currently, and in some cases, ISPs have managed to attract up to 4000 subscribers.

The satellite broadband access technology, as a connection to the Internet for high speed service, has had its challenges over the last couple of years in providing broadband services. Satellite service started off fairly strong in 2000 with a year-end subscriber count of 90,000 connections installed. It seemed as though satellite service was on its way to successfully competing head-on with the other broadband access technologies, however that was not to be, as it ended with a less than optimal showing, when compared to DSL and cable.

For additional information, contact Ernie Bergstrom: ebergstrom@reedbusiness.com.

It's Raining MEMS

Despite tough economic conditions overall, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) continue their upward trend, according to In-Stat/MDR. The high tech market research firm reports that every major market has now embraced the technology and that mature segments will see relatively low compound annual growth rates (CAGR), and that in others, such as the communications and consumer markets, MEMS has only just begun to scratch the surface. As a result, worldwide revenues for MEMS are forecast to grow from $3.9 B in 2001 to $9.6 B in 2006.

While venture capital funding is certainly down, it is by no means out, and MEMS start-ups continue to emerge. However, considerable fabrication overcapacity currently exists and it appears that the situation will only worsen over the next year.

In-Stat/MDR also found that:

  • The shift from sensor driven revenues to non-sensor driven revenues continues. In 2001, non-sensor devices comprised nearly a third of total MEMS revenues, whereas by 2006, they will account to almost half.
  • The overall average selling price (ASP) for MEMS will actually increase 25 percent over the next five years, as more expensive, non-sensor devices enter the market.
  • Unit shipments will double over the next five years, from 1.8 B units in 2001 to 3.61 B units in 2006. This is the result of both the introduction of new devices, as well as the emergence of new application opportunities.
  • The communications and consumer sectors will see the highest CAGRs, based on revenues, through 2006, at 151.4 and 42.2 percent, respectively. However, the computer market will remain one of the largest revenue-generating segments, moving from second place in 2001 to first place in 2006.

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