"Time for satellite biz to grow up"

Last week’s giant Satellite 2008 conference in Washington prompted one highly-placed speaker to argue that it was time for the satellite industry, 50-years-old this year, to play a larger role.

Hoyt Davidson, senior partner at boutique financial consultancy Near Earth LLC, and a speaker at the Washington conference, said the industry was "vibrant" and moving forward enthusiastically, but now needed to evolve from "a small and largely independent niche to a critical and integrated part of the broader digital telecom and media industry. This," says Davidson, "is a view especially held by many of the younger and newer entrants to the industry who are used to thinking about the larger whole and the broader technology and user trends."

He warns that end users, whether enterprises or consumers, increasingly just want their connectivity, content and applications anywhere and anytime, the what, when and where, and do not care so much about the who and how. "Our ability to prove our relevance and importance to the broader telecom and media industry should therefore increasingly impact the satellite sector's future growth prospects and its ability to capture a "fair" slice of the overall pie."

"An interesting question is how fast this historically insular satellite industry can adopt a new mindset and adapt to changing competitive dynamics, "he asked. "Will a Satellite 2018 even make sense or will future conferences be organized around different themes than the location of the infrastructure, for example video broadcasting, broadband connectivity and mobile communications versus satellite, cable and wireless. Being a satellite "lifer" myself, I may miss the uniqueness and excitement of our focus on space and the special bonds enjoyed in this community, but an increasingly integrated digital world has a way of bringing space down to a flattening Earth," argues Davidson.