Terrestrial Communication Systems vs. Satellite Communication Systems
Terrestrial systems, as can be deduced from the name, are ground-based radio stations and are designed for extraplanetary telecommunication with spacecraft or satellites. In its rudimentary form, earth stations are an antenna and include other equipment such as a low-noise amplifier, a down-converter, and an electronics receiver. Alternately, complex on-ground earth stations are referred to as telephone exchanges, computer centers, TV and radio stations, etc. and have varied equipment for receiving and sending data signals. Earth-based communication stations act as a gateway for transmitting and receiving radio signals from satellites.
On the other hand, satellite systems are used for needs that are beyond the reach of terrestrial systems. High altitude platforms are the intermediate means that satisfy data transfer needs from terrestrial to satellite and vice versa where a base station or satellite is not viable.
High altitude platforms (HAPs) are airships or airplanes that are deployed at altitudes of more than 50,000 feet above the Earth’s surface. Typically stationed in the stratosphere, HAPs are equipped with varying payloads for applications such as environmental monitoring, navigation, surveillance, and communication.
Security Threats and Need for Faster Communication Favor Adoption of High Altitude Platforms
The high altitude platforms market will rise at a CAGR of 8.7% from 2015 to 2023, say analysts at Transparency Market Research. This will result in the market’s value increasing from US$2.30 bn in 2014 to US$4.8 bn by 2023. In 2014, North America held the largest revenue share in this market. The reasons for this are the high adoption of advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and tethered aerostat systems, particularly in the U.S. However, Asia Pacific will emerge as the fastest-growing regional market for HAPs, with a CAGR of 10.0% expected from 2015 to 2023. In Asia Pacific, the increased expenditure on the installation of robust HAP-based surveillance systems in India, China, Japan, Southeast Asia, and South Korea is significantly bolstering this regional market. The ever-increasing Internet penetration and continually increasing demand for high-speed wireless communication services are the reasons for this.
Some of the observations pertaining to adoption of HAPs and progression of its associated market are presented as follows:
> In emerging economies, increasing overhaul of the defense sector and rising installation of faster and reliable communication means are propelling the market’s growth. Around the world, in government and other administrative departments, the demand for speedy and wireless communication media is favoring the growth of the HAPs market.
> Presently, in the bid to enhance national security due to rising terrorist activities, countries around the world are making high investments in high altitude platforms for surveillance and radio communication signals. To cater to these needs effectively, countries such as the U.S., Russia, Israel, and France are making hefty investments in UAVs due to their large coverage area. UAVs are witnessing strong demand from these countries despite their high costs and held a revenue share of more than 71% in the global market in 2014.