OneWeb deploys another 36 satellites and completes planned constellation

Communication network above Earth for global business and finance digital exchange. Internet of things (IoT), blockchain, smart connected cities, futuristic technology concept. Satellite view.

Low Earth Orbit satellite firm OneWeb has launched a further 36 satellites from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India.

The launch took place yesterday and the satellites were ‘dispensed’ in nine phases. Signal acquisition on all 36 of them has been confirmed, we’re told, and this marks the firm’s 18th launch and completes the total planned constellation of 618 satellites.

588 satellites were earmarked to deliver global coverage with additional ones launched for resiliency and redundancy purposes, and OneWeb will soon be ready to roll out global coverage by teaming up with partner firms.

This is the second launch OneWeb has deployed from India and there seems to be a strong focus there for its planned future services, with the firm saying it’s ‘coverage solutions will bring secured connectivity to enterprises, towns, villages, municipalities and schools, including the most remote areas across the country.’

The firm has been firing the satellites up at a pace and from various launch sites  – earlier this month it deployed 40 of them from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, courtesy of SpaceX.

“This is the most significant milestone in the history of OneWeb, as we reach the satellites needed for global coverage,” said Neil Masterson, Chief Executive of OneWeb. “Over several years we have remained focused on our commitment to deliver coverage solutions for the customers and communities that need it most. With today’s satellite deployment, facilitated by our expert team and our partners at ISRO and NSIL, we are realising this central ambition.

“I would like to pay tribute to all of my colleagues at OneWeb who have driven our rapid momentum and progress over recent years. It is thanks to them that we will be able to deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity around the world later this year.”

Now that the satellites are all up in the air, so to speak, the interesting thing will be what services and to whom the satellite connectivity is targeted at. The technology in recent years obviously got to a point where it was affordable enough to deploy a fleet to offer satellite connectivity, but there isn’t an obvious reason why that would be preferable in places where terrestrial towers already exist.

Of course there are remote places on earth where there isn’t tower infrastructure, but whether that constitutes a large enough market for the very large number of firms looking to get in on the satellite comms game will be one to watch in the coming years.


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