Interlinking the Global Internet

Published on September 9th, 2018

This international research collaboration, supported by the Skoltech Foundation, looks at how and why satellites have become vital for global internet connectivity in certain parts of the world. For years, technical experts have dismissed use of satellites for internet links due to latency and cost concerns. Use of transoceanic cables has been the preferred method of international internet networking. With recent innovations in satellite technologies, however, previous concerns have dissipated and satellite backhauls have been more common in many areas. Focusing on landlocked regions in Central Asia, Southern Africa, and North America, this study uses mixed methods, including trade and policy research, interviews, and site visits to investigate the value of satellite technologies in current configurations of the global internet.
Anticipated deliverables include a white paper or journal article, map of satellite-internet links, photographs of select facilities, and a shorter publication for trade or mainstream media. This study builds upon research across fields such as media and communication studies, infrastructure studies, international relations, network science, and electrical engineering and is a seed project for a possible interdisciplinary Satellite Studies concentration at MIT. A goal of this study is to increase the visibility and understanding of satellite technologies in educational and public contexts.
Project Team: Lisa Parks, Matt Graydon, Gabriel Pereira