OneWeb’s maritime LEO service goes live

UK low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite outfit OneWeb has partnered with VAR Speedcast and German shipping company F. Laeisz to launch its connectivity service for ships.

The three companies have been collaborating on trials, which have clearly gone well. The first lucky recipient of OneWeb’s maritime terminals is the Research Vessel Polarstern (pictured), which is managed by F. Laeisz and focuses on polar research. There are presumably not a lot of terrestrial base stations in the Arctic and Antarctic, so this seems like a quintessential use-case for maritime satellite connectivity.

As part of a hybrid connectivity solution deployed on the Polarstern, Speedcast is also providing additional LEO-based and L-band services, integrated via Speedcast’s SIGMA network management platform for traffic prioritization. Additionally, Speedcast has deployed Intellian’s latest maritime user terminal, the OW70M, which is even has a heating module and is apparently this year’s must-have gadget for this sort of thing.

“We’re excited to partner with OneWeb on the first live deployment of its LEO maritime connectivity network for our customer, supporting the research efforts of AWI and international scientists aboard the RV Polarstern,” said Andre Eerland, Vice President, Commercial Maritime at Speedcast.

“This project represents an important step forward in a changing industry landscape, where customers now have more options than ever to ensure reliable and seamless connectivity while operating in the most remote places on earth. We’re proud to work with innovative partners, such as OneWeb and Intellian, to deliver critical connectivity solutions as customers continue to embrace the benefits of multi-path, multi-orbit technologies.”

While the satellite business case can sometimes feel a bit tricky to pin down, maritime seems like an obvious application. Presumably, ships already use satellite connectivity to some degree, but LEO offers the prospect of significantly higher bandwidths, which would come in very handy over those long, oceanic odysseys.


Image credit: By Hannes Grobe, Alfred Wegener Institute – Self-published work, CC BY-SA 2.5,


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