Issue #4(26) 2020 Astronautics

Why flat panel antennas remain a challenge

Helen Weedon Satcoms Innovation Group, Wales

Flat panel antennas have long been anticipated to revolutionise the comms-on-the-move market. However, as yet, no one seems to have totally cracked it. Helen Weedon asks how we go from the promises of high-performing, low cost flat panel antennas to a reality that can shake up this market.

In today’s interconnected world consumers increasingly expect to be able to communicate wherever they may be so it is not surprising that the satcoms-on-the-move market has been growing rapidly over recent years. The maritime satcom market, for example, is set to reach US$3.2 billion by 2025, representing an annual growth rate of 7.1 percent ((Research and Markets report, 2020).

It is clear that the market needs flat panel antennas (FPA). Space is often at a premium in comms-on-the-move environments, so flat panels are naturally an attractive option and the potential is huge. A report issued last year by Northern Sky Research forecasts cumulative FPA equipment sales to reach around US$11 billion by 2028.

The problem is that customers are beginning to demand these types of antennas for comms-on-the-move applications but, as yet, the high expectation does not often meet with reality. Underperforming antennas lead to technical issues and unhappy customers, more often than not ending with an irate call to the satellite operator.

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