As telcos look to expand their portfolios and improve their offerings to customers, many are looking to space and how satellite connectivity can bolster their propositions. BT’s Space Strategy Lead, Mauro Mortali shares his take on the satellite opportunity for the telco sector.

Can you tell us about your role at your BT?

I wear two hats – I lead on Public Sector Strategy within BT Enterprise, our UK B2B Customer Facing Unit, where I am responsible for strategy development across BT’s Public Sector segments of Central & Local Government, Health, Public Safety & Justice, and Defence.

I am also BT’s Space Strategy lead, where I am responsible for our strategy for exploiting the commercial opportunity from Space, and taking a lead role in supporting the UK Space Agenda. 

What does it mean to be a modern telco according to BT?  

We operate in a rapidly changing environment. By understanding key trends we can take advantage of opportunities as they arise and act quickly to reduce risks where necessary. Growing demand from customers and for digital workspaces means a growth on the reliance of connectivity. All of this means that seamless, ‘always on’ connectivity and greater data consumption are here to stay too.

Shaping how customers interact with the digital world by always pushing forward the next generation of networks and technology. In the UK, 5G and full fibre rollout continues at pace and high capacity, high speed networks will support greater consumption of connectivity. These technologies open up new opportunities for BT like 5G private networks.

Digitalisation and the shift to cloud technology is changing the way our customers live. Businesses are continuing to digitise, with communication and collaboration tools, and with shifts to cloud technology, AI and machine learning, which are a critical part of new solutions and BT’s operations.

BT places a focus on connection through our devices, machines and sensors, each aspect plays an ever increasing role in our homes and in our workplaces. Alongside this, edge computing is changing how people and machines connect and what can be done with these connections.

Traditional telcos and new entrants in the consumer and enterprise connectivity markets continue to drive intense competition. Competitive markets are ever present in all our active markets and as connectivity and digital service markets intertwine, we continue to face a larger and wider set of competitors – big and small.

Furthermore, we care about our impact environmental and socially, as consumers, companies and other entities have an expectation that we uphold our social responsibilities and trust that we will aim to make positive environmental changes. As well as our social and environmental impact, we have to adapt to the continuous uncertainty present in our current economic climate. We have to work to deliver the best results we can during times of inflation, investment loss and smaller budget costs.

Lastly, a key part of being a modern telco like BT is having an increased focus on data privacy and the threats posed by cyber security. Every day, consumers, businesses and regulators want more insight and transparency on how and where their personal information is being used and why it’s being kept. An ever-growing amount of cyber-attacks and data breaches in the past year highlight the importance of having a trusted provider like BT to help prepare, identify, mitigate and manage threats.

As the Space Strategy Lead for BT, what is the opportunity? And do you foresee any potential barriers?  

Space is a very exciting area now – there is significant public and private investment going into the sector. Much lower cost access to space is democratising space, so we are seeing lots of interesting start ups coming to market in areas beyond traditional satellite connectivity, e.g. in space manufacturing. 

Additionally, technical limitations around latency are being removed through the emergence of Low Earth Orbit satellites and High Altitude Pseudo Platforms, so these are becoming more viable options for remote / rural connectivity as well use for cases around resiliency. 

We are also seeing an ever increasing convergence between terrestrial and non- terrestrial connectivity, facilitated by 5G 3GPP standards, which will make it easier to integrate satellite into fixed and mobile networks.

The main barrier remains that of cost of satellite capacity – the removal of technical limitations is a significant step forward, but cost can still be prohibitive. 

You’re speaking in the closing keynote panel about the need to collaborate and re-align the communications eco-system. Can you give us some insight into your views on this subject when approaching it from a satellite connectivity perspective rather than terrestrial?  

In a world of Internet of Things, network coverage goes beyond population coverage to geographic coverage, and there is no one silver bullet for rural / remote connectivity. It will be about bringing together the most appropriate earth, air and space based technologies and integrating them seamlessly to be able to deliver end to end services for both consumer and business customers. 

In a country like the UK with very high levels of terrestrial coverage, air and space based technologies will only ever be a small part of an overall solution, but none the less they will play a critical role both in terms of connecting hard to reach locations and providing additional resilience.

What are you looking forward to at Total Telecom Congress next month? 

Seeing and meeting my peers in person. Being inspired.

Mauro and 1,000 senior global connectivity leaders will be meeting in London on 1st and 2nd November for Total Telecom Congress 2022. Head to the event website to find out how to join.