Satellite D2D gains momentum
Feb 16, 2023 by Jonathan Watson


The direct-to-device (D2D) market for satellite-to-smartphone connectivity has attracted a lot of attention in recent years. That’s increased even more following the news of Apple’s partnership with Globalstar and Qualcomm’s partnership with Iridium.

The analysts at Northern Sky Research have even called D2D “the largest opportunity in Satcom’s history”.

Challenges lie in wait. Some of the companies seeking to offer satellite D2D, such as those mentioned above, want to use frequencies identified in the ITU radio regulations for mobile satellite services (MSS).

Others, such as Elon Musk’s Starlink, want to re-use terrestrial spectrum already assigned to mobile network operators for their service. This is controversial and likely contravenes ITU radio regulations. An international solution is needed, but achieving a global consensus may be difficult. There isn’t even an agenda item on it at this year’s World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23).

A big opportunity then, but there are still many obstacles. Can Musk and others give this technology enough momentum to overcome them?

A Research Note providing an overview of the satellite D2D sector has now been added to our Spectrum Research Service. Subscribers to the Service can read it here.