Everyone launching a new satellite broadband play goes straight for the "We're going bring service to the billions of unserved/underserved people around the globe." Stop. Please. It's cliche.
OneWeb says it is going to build out its LEO network to thousands and thousands of satellites to serve 1 billion people by 2025. GEO small sat manufacturer Astranis throws down 4 billion people without broadband.
Harken back to the days of O3b -- the "other 3 billion." The company's customers from day one were mobile operators and internet services providers that didn't have access to affordable broadband.
Today's pride and joy? MedallionNet, Carnival Corporation's broadband service for its cruise liner fleet. MedallionNet will deliver bandwidth of up to 1.5 Gbps to ship, access to the speeds that "eclipse typical land-based hotel connectivity performance levels." Unfortunately true, given the hospitality industry's difficulty in making money.
Making money is the name of the game.
Earlier this week, OneWeb was touting the creation of the Seamless Air Alliance. Flying customers will be able to get cellular mobile roaming on board commercial aircraft around the world, a luxury that, like cruise ships, many billions of people will never be able to afford.
Let's be honest -- it's not unserved billions that are going to pay for and support new satellite networks, but the people who can afford them. This isn't a good or bad issue, but a fact of life. You rarely hear discussions on how to lower the cost of bits per user so the unserved can afford to pay for a broadband connection, just touting of the billions of unserved.
SpaceX has floated/dropped a price of around $200 for satellite user gear, but not how much someone in a "unserved" market will pay per month. And nobody knows with any certainty how the cost for satellite equipment and monthly service will fit into cellular service models. Maybe lots of satellite services will act as catalysts to hybrid and lower cost cellular models, but at the end of the day, people still will need to build cell towers and power infrastructure for phones.