Space and Internet: two industries learning to converge

Delegate of the Aerospace MBA class of 2016, Mr. Lei Gao dedicated his project research to analyzing the convergence of two industries, space and internet. An innovative perspective which opens new horizons.

When talking about the convergence of the space and internet industries, it is of course the OneWeb project that comes to mind. A perfect illustration of a start-up which plans to bring internet from the sky, providing broadband for all, at ultra-competitive rates, and mark a new era for the space industry with the production of several hundred small satellites within a limited period.

Strengthening links between the two industries

The convergence between the space and internet industries is not limited to this symbolic project. As Lei Gao shows in his research, from a quantitative point of view, the number of articles jointly addressing these two subjects has been increasing since 2010, from 297 to 606 publications. ” By now, the convergence between the space industry and the internet industry is clear that there is an ongoing and speeding-up convergence between two industries from 2010 on”, he writes in his dissertation. He highlights the influence that each of the industries has on the other, noting that “the internet industry prevails the space industry, and the fact that internet technology has changed and is changing the world in every aspect more than others”.

Six convergence scenarios

Using the example of GPS (Global Positioning System), the delegate develops six scenarios that demonstrate convergence of the two industries. “Some are quite mature (e.g., GPS supporting internet), some are still in the preliminary phase (e.g. satellites supporting IoT and space imagery service), and some are upgrading to a new phase (e.g. satellite-based internet access service). Different scenarios are supporting each other, because they are generally driven by related technologies. The convergence in complement stands more on the side of the internet industry than of the space industry,” he claims.

And to conclude: ” For the two industries and related firms, choosing the right strategy while being aware of risks and crucial technologies is the lynchpin. For space industry, it is appealed that the whole industry and firms should be more aggressive on space technologies and non-space technologies. For the internet industry, it is vital to take the risk management into consideration”.

Also of note!

On 27 October 2017, the SIRIUS Chair awarded Mr. Lei Gao its annual prize for his research work on “Convergence between the Space Industry and Internet Industry”, under the supervision of Dr. Victor Dos Santos Paulino, Professor of Strategy and Innovation Management at TBS. SIRIUS is the first international chair dedicated to legal and management activities in the space sector, funded by CNES, Airbus Defence & Space and Thales Alenia Space.

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