Alcatel and Space Telecommunications: The Slow Development of an Industry Center in Europe

Special Report: 2001, Satellites in Orbit
By Yves Bouvier

The Compagnie Générale d’Electricité started in the construction of the telecommunications satellites at the bottom. On a market controlled by the American firms, the french company benefited by the public orders to build earth stations of emission-reception. It is still with the orders of the french administration of telecommunications that the industry of satellites construction is built (program Télécom 1), CGE took a place in this industry by the purchase of the Thomson’s subsidiaries. Gradually, the European orders will take over, at the moment where the firm is more and more European (1986-1987). In the 1990’s, the evolution of the satellites market forced Alcatel Space to enter in a competitive logic.
The constitution of the industrial pole of space telecommunications within the CGE is the result of a long term industrial policy of the authorities as well as the consequence of restructurings of the telecommunications industry (agreements, mergers…). This sector was never a strong axis of development of the group, but today, Alcatel subsidiary in space telecommunications is the first European manufacturer of satellites.

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