OneWeb Adds to Satellite Broadband Constellation

(Image credit: OneWeb)

OneWeb has successfully added another three dozen low earth orbit satellites (LEOs) to its constellation of broadband satellites.

The satellites were launched October 23 by NewSpace India Limited and OneWeb said it had successfully acquired the signals of all 36 of them.

It is OneWeb's 14th launch and brings the total of satellites deployed to 462, which the company says represents more than 70% of its planned 648-satellite fleet, which is meant to deliver on high-speed low-latency broadband competition to wired and wireless providers.

OneWeb says it is now on track to light up that global service by 2023. 

"Today's launch is a significant milestone for OneWeb," said company executive chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal. "This new phase of our launch programme from India brings us a step closer to not only enhancing our global coverage but also delivering connectivity in India and South Asia, particularly to the communities who need it most."

Back in January, OneWeb struck a long-term deal to deliver service to India, contingent on securing the "appropriate" licenses and regulatory approvals. 

OneWeb is among a number of such LEO-based satellite broadband efforts the FCC has given its regulatory approval as a way to promote broadband price and service competition, advance IoT and 5G for all, and help close the digital divide in the U.S.

OneWeb's stated goal is to get broadband to some of the hardest-to-reach areas of the world.

In June 2017, the FCC unanimously approved OneWeb's request to deliver its service in the U.S. market, including particularly hard-to-reach and expensive-to-reach rural areas.

Pai's successor, chairperson Jessica Rosenworcel, also supports LEOs as a way to provide broadband competition.

OneWeb filed for bankruptcy in 2020, suggesting it was on the verge of getting financing when the pandemic hit. It had already invested billions of dollars in the enterprise.

It was able to get new funding from, among others, the British government, and emerged from bankruptcy late last year. It secured over $1 billion in launch insurance back in September 2021. ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.