Insights from Mark Dankberg on the convergence of satellites and cellular

Viasat CEO and Chairman, Mark Dankberg, discusses the importance of satellite spectrum to global connectivity.

Mark Dankberg joins a panel of space industry leaders at Satellite 2024

During a thought-provoking opening session at the Satellite 2024 Conference, Mark Dankberg and industry peers did a deep dive into the dynamic intersection of satellites and cellular networks. The lively discussion centered around the value proposition of satellites in terms of global coverage and the need to make services more economically attractive to customers, and how terrestrial and satellite collaboration will propel the industry.

Key Takeaways

Viasat is making significant strides towards offering global coverage

Mark shared how Viasat has helped redefine the metrics of satellite broadband away from transponders and megahertz and into gigabits and terabits. Now, with the acquisition of Inmarsat we can accelerate our efforts to bring our regional broadband value proposition to a global scale.

When discussing the convergence of non-terrestrial networks, Mark emphasized how important satellite spectrum is to the industry.

“The thing that’s really exciting about the Inmarsat transaction is we now have one of the largest spectrum portfolios for L-band on a global basis.”

Viasat is focusing on creating a service that is economically attractive to consumers

Mark recognized that the market needs improvement in airtime price and speeds to make satellite services economically attractive to those who are used to terrestrial networks. Satellites can provide global coverage, but the demand tends to be concentrated where people are. Efficient infrastructure placement is crucial for optimal use and scalability.

“A complete rethinking of space and ground infrastructure, as well as cooperation among mobile operators, is necessary to bridge the gap and make satellite services ubiquitous.”

Inflight Wi-Fi is one of the fastest growing businesses for Viasat

Mark shared his excitement for Viasat’s in-flight Wi-Fi business and highlighted the role space satellites have in connecting people who are otherwise disconnected.

The challenge lies in establishing direct connectivity using satellite spectrum, but the potential for economic success in the airline industry is substantial if the economics can be optimized

“The ecosystem on airplanes, benefits passengers, airlines, and mobile carriers, plays a crucial role in determining usage, demand, and how connectivity is paid for.”

The satellite industry faces the challenge of not disenfranchising existing customers as it evolves and grows.

Mark recognized that there needs to be a balance between continuing to serve customers who rely on existing services while innovating new generations of technology. Driving up the productivity of space systems is a key approach to reducing the overall cost of space systems, contributing to the value dimension of the industry.

“Licensed mobile satellite spectrum is a great way to meet the increasing demand without taking away spectrum from terrestrial operators, while also ensuring the existing customers of mobile satellite services are not abandoned.”