One of the most exciting challenges of assembling the annual SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition program is trying to figure out how to create environments that encourage relevant thought-leadership and produce new business opportunities for our attendees.
Staying ahead of the constantly accelerating pace of innovation is no easy task, especially in a world that reinvents itself every day. This is why I find it so difficult to answer questions about what I think will be the most important topics discussed at SATELLITE 2016.
Our community is well-stocked with cataclysmic developments. I could imagine any number of them happening at any given moment between now and March 7 and completely disrupting the way we conceptualize satellite technology.
That said, I’m going to take a shot on a few predictions – just for the fun of looking back and evaluating my accuracy. Below, I’ve assembled a list of what I believe will be the most important topics and noticeable changes at SATELLITE 2016. My opinions are based solely on my experience of assembling the conference program throughout the year (and a recent peak at our attendee list).
- It’s pay-off time for High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) technology. In years past, the SATELLITE show has been a promotional platform for the “potential” of HTS. Now, with the capital and infrastructure mostly in place, I think the focus of the SATELLITE 2016 HTS conversation will shift to the returns, especially when I see a lot of bankers, investors and analysts on our attendee list.
- The days of separating mobile and fixed services into tidy verticals are over. Every satellite company, to some extent, is playing in the mobile arena. After all, the relationship between modern businesses and modern consumers starts and ends with the promise of providing instant, 24-7 mobile service. The impact that streaming services made on the broadcast industry is now a decade-old example.
- Get ready to redefine the satellite end-user. Why are car insurance companies, real estate agencies, agricultural equipment manufacturers, civil planning firms, clothing retailers, professional sports teams and public school systems sending representatives to SATELLITE 2016? Hopefully, one of the reasons you register for our show is to find out! Spoiler alert – You’re going to meet a lot of new people on the SATELLITE 2016 show floor.
- The intrigue/debate over the Internet-of-Things (IoT) will continue. It’s fun to dream about your toaster oven sending data about your carb intake to your fitness tracker/smartwatch and it’s even more fun for us to dream about that smartwatch streaming videos of your Alaskan cruise vacation to the self-driving car of your best friend in Montana. The question is – who is having that dream? Wired Magazine staff writers, or satellite operator CFOs? Remote sensing and imagery play a major role in this discussion and some say these new tools will change the way we live and work. The commercial satellite industry needs to figure out how it fits into the picture.
- The aerospace community is getting younger! SATELLITE 2016 will boast the youngest audience in the show’s 35+ year history thanks to an influx of college students and young professionals and a new wave of enthusiasm for space technology. They’re looking for inspiration, mentorship and job opportunities. Are you looking for new talent? Here’s your opportunity to make a lasting impression.
- Government satellite needs and requirements are now virtually identical to those of commercial and enterprise customers. Security, agility, availability, reliability and affordability are the pillars of modern satellite communications across all markets. What separates government satellite specialists who are thriving and those who are simply “surviving?” I expect to hear phrases like “diversification” and “cultural change” often during SATELLITE 2016 government and military sessions, as well as during our defense acquisition workshop with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Doug Loverro and Inmarsat’s Rebecca Cowen-Hirsch. (NOTE – As I was writing this, I received news about the proposed NASA budget cut, which makes having NASA Administrator Charles Bolden as a keynote all the more interesting.)
- It’s crunch time for launchers and manufacturers in both the space and ground segments. This one is easy and it boils down to new HTS systems and constellations. Fortunately, both industries have evolved to become more flexible and agile than ever in order to accommodate the workload.
There are about a dozen more topics I could add to this list (spectrum stability, reusability, space debris, the energy market – to name a few), but it’s nearly impossible to cover everything you’ll experience at SATELLITE 2016 in 800 words or less.
We look forward to seeing you at the Gaylord Convention Center March 7-10 and hope you enjoy the show!
About the author
As Co-Chairman of SATELLITE 2016, Jeff Hill is responsible for creating and managing the conference program and attracting new speakers and attendees to this and other Access Intelligence aerospace, technology and energy events.
He is a published writer, former business journalist and strategic media director with a wide range of experience in aerospace, telecommunications, higher education, economic and workforce development, publication management, research and content development.
He held content management positions at Next City and Via Satellite magazine and has written for several newspapers and publications in his native are of Philadelphia. He previously served as Director of Communications at Drexel University, where he was in charge of creating and executing promotional strategies for its media, arts and design academic programs and events.