Broadcasting has always been at the heart of the satellite communications industry. From the first artificial satellite (Sputnik in 1954) and the first TV picture relay (Telstar in 1962), it has grown to become the mainstay of space industry revenues. Yet although it is now normal to see satellite dishes on rooftops and Satellite News Gathering trucks almost everywhere, rapid technological change continues to drive evolution of the sector. This includes a constant push to improve bandwidth efficiency, to increase satellite capacity and coverage flexibility and to find new niche applications and market sectors, all of which provide opportunities for innovation and industrial collaborations.
With the proliferation of mobile devices, media content is shifting away from the traditional linear TV broadcasting to non-linear on-demand streaming. Satellite technology with its broadcast and multicasting capabilities is expected to be a key enabler for media content use cases. The rise of the new wireless technology 5G and the potential of having a seamless integration of terrestrial and satellite networks, it is expected that satellite will play a more central role in enabling new enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) applications. Applications such as enhanced video streaming and virtual and augmented reality will enable the events industry to be more immersive by bringing the event virtually closer to the user (e.g. VR) or enhancing the on-site experience (e.g. AR).
ESA is fully aware of the opportunities that 5G presents and have marked this as a strategic priority in supporting industry. Several activities in the defining the business case, technology developments and standardisation are currently ongoing or are in the future planning.