Last week, I had the privilege of participating in the Smallsat Symposium on behalf of Druid Software. Held in Mountain View, California, the symposium unfolded within the historic walls of the Computer History Museum, a fitting venue for discussions that would shape the future of satellite technology. The guest list was impressive: new start-ups, established players, customers, and partners—all converging to explore the boundless possibilities of Space.

Executives, thought leaders, and scientists shared their insights, igniting conversations that spanned the spectrum of satellite advancements. From Earth Observation to Signal Intelligence, and even the convergence with telecommunications, the symposium fuelled a lot of interesting conversations.

But what truly captured our attention was the possibility of seamless integration of satellites with everyday life. It’s not beyond the bounds of one’s imagination to have your cellular phone or IoT devices communicating directly with space. In fact, is not just something one can imagine; it’s the reality we’re shaping today.

5G Non-Terrestrial Networks and Narrowband-IoT over satellite. A mass market opportunity from far, far away.

Since Release 15 the satellite industry has become an integral part of the 3GPP ecosystem. Every new Release has brought a new set of specifications that brings terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks closer together. As we approach 6G we will likely stop talking about two separate technologies and instead look at a unified network where it will be impossible to distinguish between connectivity from terrestrial, high-altitude platform systems (HAPS) or satellites. And quite frankly, end users don’t care even today. What matters is that reliable and lifesaving connectivity is available everywhere, no matter how it is delivered. But before we make the leap all the way to 6G let’s talk about where we are today and what these new capabilities enable.

With Release 17 the space-based connectivity market took a major step forward. A large number of enhancements were made to the 3GPP specifications that allowed for commercial of the shelf chipset and regular form factor smart phones and IoT devices to connect to existing satellites in space. No more large cigar shaped antennas, bulky phones and special chipsets are needed. Any late model phone or IoT device with Release 17 support is today able to connect to a signal coming from space in a standards-based way. This enhances the reliability, resilience, and dependability of networks in case of natural or man-made disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, fires, or cyberattacks. It also enables voice and data services in unserved or underserved areas across the globe and improves the IoT use case for smart agriculture, transportation, logistics, and more.

Watch this space!

As satellite support is now part of the latest 5G standard adoption will happen organically over time. There are today more than 1.5B mobile phones and 500M cellular IoT devices sold each year and this will lead to the majority of devices in the market to be 3GPP Release 17 capable in just a few years’ time. A mass market opportunity is being created right in front of us. As with any new technology the revenue projections vary widely. According to a report by Counterpoint Research, the global market for 5G NTN and NB-IoT over satellite is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 40%.  Another research firm, Analysys Mason put the total aggregate revenue opportunity at ~110B over 10 years.

Druid Software are in the Satellite industry?

Several of Druid Software customers are at the forefront of bringing these innovations to market and time to revenue is key. Being able to capture early adopters, quickly iterate and adapt as use case evolves, enable seamless roaming and handover between satellite and terrestrial networks are just a few examples of challenges that need to be overcome. Innovation is at the core of what we do at Druid Software and bringing customized and tailored software solutions in support of our customer’s use cases is instilled in our DNA. Through collaboration and carefully listening to our customers’ needs we are able to quickly react to changing market demands and bring the right solutions at the right time to market.

Looking towards Release 18 and the recently scoped Release 19 we can see that innovation in space-based connectivity will only continue to accelerate. Withing a few years’ time we can look forward to even more capabilities from new orbits and frequency bands that will bring higher data rates to smartphones, store and forward capabilities to IoT devices along with user plane data processing in space. As these market opportunities continue to develop Druid Software is committed to working with our customers to bring innovative solutions to market quickly to reduce cost, improve efficiency and capture revenue early. If you are interested in learning more about 5G NTN and NB-IoT over satellite, or how Druid Software can help you leverage these technologies for your business, please contact us today.


Written by Richard Swardh Vice President of Sales Non Terrestrial Networks | Druid Software

Connect with me on LinkedIn if you would like to discuss non-terrestrial networks or know more.