Where’s the satellite business for connected cars?

A report from Northern Sky Research (NSR) pointedly asks where is the flow of business that was expected in terms of ‘connected vehicles’. Specifically addressing its study to the prospects for valuable flat-plate antennas, the devices needed to connect up vehicles to satellite-delivered services, it admits that business is “elusive, and still many years away from being realised”.

NSR believes there are opportunities for high connectivity growth particularly in China, but says that cellular operators are likely to be the beneficiaries with hybrid supply partnerships also likely to emerge.

NSR says: “With millions of vehicles entering the market every year, the successful deployment of the connected car via satellite could be very lucrative for flat-plate antenna (FPA) manufacturers. However, NSR and others remain quite critical and conservative on its potential, viewing the value chain as fragmented, the use-cases poorly defined, and the technology and price points not yet suitable for widespread adoption. These factors have pumped the brakes on the connected car, but the indirect effect of trying to develop this market has developed other uses cases such as connected bus and trains.”

“Driven by enterprise-focused applications, such as M2M/IoT and passenger connectivity, the last year saw considerable progress for land-mobile FPAs, with announcements from Caterpillar Machines and Penteon (both through hiSky), Satcube, Pivotal Commware, and even Kymeta,” says NSR. “Safety, autonomy, and the need for analytics have driven the successful deployment of commercial land-vehicle FPAs. So, does that mean it could have a positive and shift the satellite connected car market into high gear as well?”

NSR’s study forecasts a reasonable growth-rate (CAGR) of some 14.8 per cent for the FPA industry, leading to a value of about $94 million over the next 10 years, but is realistically negative on any sort of higher benefits for satellite-supplied services. “North America will take the lead, responsible for 39 per cent of the market opportunity over the next decade, due to an established panoply of FPA manufacturers with a land-mobility focus. Enterprises looking to monitor engines, vehicles, and cargo are turning to flat panel antennas for their low profiles, while equipment manufacturers are finding the generally lower bandwidth requirements an easier means by which to enter this vertical. These factors led NSR to adjust the land-mobility forecasts upwards. However, with only 6,800 units expected to ship by 2027, it is clear the satellite connected car is not expected to drive the land-mobility FPA market.”

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