Space Duopoly Brings Internet to the Masses
The race to provide internet access to the whole world gets into the 2nd phase and it seems that for now, it will be a duopoly
A few months ago, we discussed the fact that there was going to be an convergence in some industries: space, internet and perhaps energy. Apart from Elon Musk’s leadership in this trifecta, we are steadily seeing competition in space and internet.
In our last article, we argued that there might be some form of co-opetition or a duopoly. Well, the latest news from the Branson / Qualcomm venture of OneWeb, gives us our answer: a duopoly is in the offing. Recently, OneWeb contracted Airbus to create a constellation of 900 of these small satellites.
To refresh our memories, these satellites are about 330 pounds (150 kilos) and cost under $500,000 to produce. The idea is that once in orbit these half millionaires create a constellation 10x any other satellite currently in orbit.
Of note in this duopoly is the production and how Airbus will deploy them there. The schedule is that the first 700 of these satellites will be deployed in 2018. Airbus doesn’t really have its own reusable rockets, but SpaceX does. Building the satellites is already talked of as an American affair (in fact, most of the Airbus satellites will move to production in the United States)
The question is thus who gets there first. But most importantly, who gets it right and cheaply in order to get the rest of the world wired on the internet. Google Loon has been testing its balloons in freezers but it seems that Google’s investment in SpaceX’s plans is the way it’s going forward.
Meanwhile Facebook has shut down its $1bn plan to fly drones, while Adeline, Airbus’ answer to SpaceX is still a prototype and comes due in 2022. (Check the video out). Our bet is SpaceX pulls it off quicker with OneWeb to come shortly thereafter and thatt not all duopolies are bad for the world?