The GSA report had identified 77 publicly announced partnerships between operators and satellite vendors

Satellites are rapidly gaining prominence in the world of cellular communication, with 50 operators in 37 countries and territories already planning satellite services, according to a recent report by the GSA.

However, GSA noted that the full extent of the potential of satellites to complement terrestrial networks as well as phone services and broadband is still unclear.

The latest GSA report, called “Non-Terrestrial 5G Networks and Satellite Connectivity”, identified 77 publicly announced partnerships between operators and satellite vendors across 43 countries and territories as of the end of March 2024.

GSA noted that nine operators in nine countries and territories are currently evaluating, testing or trialing these services. Also, 10 operators in 10 countries and territories have commercially launched satellite services, an increase of two operators since the previous update in August 2023.

The report highlighted that the process of launching 5G NTN worldwide is still in its infancy but noted that the technology is already becoming widely adopted to provide rural coverage. This remains the most popular use for satellites by far, forming 57% of all identified partnerships. GSA has recorded 34 countries and territories that are either planning, evaluating and testing or have launched satellite broadband services. Of these, Timor-Leste is the latest to have launched services, joining the U.K., Mexico, Japan, Papua New Guinea and the United Arab Emirates. Five more are currently evaluating, testing or trialing these services and 26 are in the planning stages.

Joe Barrett, president of the GSA said: “The number of operator and satellite provider partnerships will grow over the coming months and years. The rate at which partnerships launch their services will also increase. This is already evident in the continuing growth in launched broadband satellite services over the past four months, with the current majority in the planning phase. The increasing need for broadband, voice and data services and satellite-to cellphone technology will see more and more operators expanding to cater to people in rural areas, as well as in the event of natural disasters affecting terrestrial networks. As a result, GSA expects to see more countries with satellite service offerings soon.”

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