Multiple Satellite Firms Join Hands to Create a Multi-Orbit Network

Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service continues to assert its dominance in the market and geopolitics, notably evidenced by its pivotal role in bolstering communication resilience amid the Ukraine conflict.

However, industry executives and experts emphasize that the trajectory of satellite communications is veering towards hybrid networks, integrating services from both low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites like SpaceX’s Starlink and those from higher altitude satellites in medium and geostationary orbits.

This transition is propelled by commercial exigencies and security imperatives, with both the U.S. government and commercial entities such as airlines and cruise ship companies increasingly seeking solutions that span multiple orbits.

A recent flurry of industry transactions — such as the Eutelsat-OneWeb merger, Viasat’s acquisition of Inmarsat, and agreements between Intelsat, SES, OneWeb, and Starlink — underscores the emergence of mixed-space networks encompassing diverse orbits.

According to Caleb Henry, an industry analyst and director of research at Quilty Space, hybrid networks, once viewed as peripheral, are now ascendant in the satellite communications sector.

These networks leverage the unique attributes of different orbits to deliver enhanced connectivity. LEO satellites, being closer to Earth, offer lower latency, while larger geostationary satellites offer broader coverage albeit with higher latency. Medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellites occupy an intermediate position.

“From a Department of Defense (DoD) standpoint, the primary advantage of a multi-orbit approach is resilience,” Henry pointed out. “Military users prioritize redundancy, and with multi-orbit networks, they gain the assurance of continuous service even in adverse scenarios such as jamming or outages.”

Multi-orbit satellite

Moreover, market dynamics are propelling this shift towards hybrid networks, Henry noted.

The industry is undergoing profound changes as traditional satellite operators adapt to the disruption caused by new entrants like Starlink and brace for intensified competition from forthcoming LEO ventures such as Amazon’s Project Kuiper and Telesat Lightspeed.

As the industry gravitates towards multi-tiered networks, Henry underscores that collaboration and partnership models are becoming standard practice for operators to remain relevant and address the intricate demands of customers seeking uninterrupted connectivity, particularly in challenging environments.

Josh Alba
Josh Alba
Josh Alba stands at the forefront of contemporary business journalism, his words weaving narratives that illuminate the intricate workings of the corporate world. With a keen eye for detail and a penchant for uncovering the underlying stories behind financial trends, Josh has established himself as a trusted authority in business writing. Drawing from his wealth of experience and relentless pursuit of truth, Josh delivers insights that resonate with readers across industries.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x