Home / Business / With a successful launch, OneWeb has joined SpaceX and others in the Internet satellite race

With a successful launch, OneWeb has joined SpaceX and others in the Internet satellite race




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Launch of the Ariane Soyuz rocket with six OneWeb satellites on board.Photo: CSG Optical Service / Copyright: ESA / SNES / ARIANESPACE

At the beginning of Wednesday evening on the coast of French Guiana, an Arianespace Soyuz rocket was successfully launched. He took with him the first six satellites to start the Internet OneWeb, who builds & nbsp; a constellation of 650 satellites in low Earth orbit, providing telecommunications and Internet services worldwide.

"I think it will be a historic day for how we use space and technology to provide connectivity and use that spectrum for the benefit of the world," said Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb. Forbes.

This marks a turning point in the new generation of communications satellites, which contributors believe will provide broadband Internet connectivity to billions of people who still do not have access. OneWeb joined SpaceX second company of this new generation of Internet satellites to actually put into orbit a spaceship.

OneWeb was founded in 2012 by Greg Wyler. Its previous Internet satellite company, O3, had placed 12 satellites at an altitude of about 5,000 km, a distance below normal designed to accelerate Internet signals. Wyler's vision for OneWeb, of which he is the executive chairman, is even more ambitious: a constellation of hundreds, even thousands of satellites even closer to the Earth, a hundred meters from the surface, in a low Earth orbit . This proximity should offer satellite Internet customers an experience closer to broadband, especially in areas where it is currently difficult and expensive to connect to the Internet. According to Pitchbook, the company has raised more than $ 3 billion to realize this vision, supported by companies like Softbank, Airbus, Virgin and satellite telecommunications provider Hughes.

"We want people to enjoy the best-of-breed Internet experience," said Steckler.

The market potential is great. According to one report, thanks to the growing demand for data and the falling costs of rocket launches, satellite Internet service providers could generate more than $ 500 billion in revenue by 2040. Morgan Stanley.

"We think the biggest opportunity comes from providing Internet access to under-served and underserved areas of the world, but bandwidth demand from autonomous cars, the Internet of Things, the Internet, and the Internet. artificial intelligence, virtual reality and video will also increase. "Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in the report.

OneWeb is not the only one wanting to serve Internet customers of low Earth orbit. For example, SpaceX has its own project, called Starlink, which also aims to have several thousand orbiting satellites providing high-speed Internet access starting in 2021. The UK startup Sky and Space Global announced last week that it had collected $ 12 million to reach its goal. to put 200 nanosatellites in low Earth orbit to provide Internet services along the equator. Several other companies such as Boeing are also considering building communication satellites in this orbit.

This is not the first time that there is a race for communications in low Earth orbit. Efforts were also made in the early 1990s, the Motorola Iridium project to obtain satellite constellations. But the technology of the time could not keep pace with advances in cell phone technology, which led some providers to go bankrupt, while others ceased operations before launching a single satellite. Technology has evolved considerably since then, but history can make some investors nervous, which may have been the launch of Wednesday.

"The launch of Test Satellites by OneWeb is important because it allows (if successful) to minimize risk and initiate the flow of needed investments," said Chris Quilty, founder of space strategy company Quilty Analytics. Forbes in an email.

Wednesday's launch is just the beginning of a long process for OneWeb to realize Wyler's vision. OneWeb will need 650 satellites in low Earth orbit by mid-2021 to provide global coverage. He plans to eventually have more than 2,000 in orbit. All will be launched by Arianespace; OneWeb signed a contract with the European launch supplier for 21 launches in 2015.

OneWeb already has customers ready and waiting for their data. In addition to this launch, the company also announced Wednesday at the Mobile World Congress the signing of its first two contracts with customers.

We are with UK based Talia Limited to provide customers in regions such as Africa and the Middle East with high-speed Internet access for the consumer The second is to provide telecommunication services to an Italian telecommunications company. Intermatica support its European customers.

"We are very excited about this. We move from an idea to a project into a business, "said Steckel.

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Launch of the Ariane Soyuz rocket with six OneWeb satellites on board.Photo: CSG Optical Service / Copyright: ESA / SNES / ARIANESPACE

At the beginning of Wednesday night on the coast of French Guiana, an Arianespace Soyuz rocket was successfully launched. OneWeb, which is building a constellation of 650 satellites in low Earth orbit, offers telecommunication and Internet services worldwide.

"I think it will be a historic day for how we use space and technology to provide connectivity and use that spectrum for the benefit of the world," said Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb. Forbes.

This marks a turning point in the new generation of communications satellites, which contributors believe will provide broadband Internet connectivity to billions of people who still do not have access. OneWeb joins SpaceX as the second company of this new generation of Internet satellites to actually put the spacecraft in orbit.

OneWeb was founded in 2012 by Greg Wyler. Its previous Internet satellite company, O3, had placed 12 satellites at an altitude of about 5,000 km, a distance below normal designed to accelerate Internet signals. Wyler's vision for OneWeb, of which he is the executive chairman, is even more ambitious: a constellation of hundreds, even thousands of satellites even closer to the Earth, a hundred meters from the surface, in a low Earth orbit . This proximity should offer satellite Internet customers an experience closer to broadband, especially in areas where it is currently difficult and expensive to connect to the Internet. According to Pitchbook, the company has raised more than $ 3 billion to realize this vision, supported by companies like Softbank, Airbus, Virgin and satellite telecommunications provider Hughes.

"We want people to enjoy the best-of-breed Internet experience," said Steckler.

The market potential is great. With rising demand for data and declining costs of rocket launches, satellite Internet service providers could generate more than $ 500 billion in revenue by 2040, according to a report by Morgan. Stanley.

"We think the biggest opportunity comes from providing Internet access to under-served and underserved areas of the world, but bandwidth demand from autonomous cars, the Internet of Things, the Internet, and the Internet. artificial intelligence, virtual reality and video will also increase. "Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in the report.

OneWeb is not the only one wanting to serve Internet customers of low Earth orbit. For example, SpaceX has its own project, called Starlink, which also aims to have several thousand orbiting satellites providing high-speed Internet access starting in 2021. The UK startup Sky and Space Global announced last week that it had collected $ 12 million to reach its goal. to put 200 nanosatellites in low Earth orbit to provide Internet services along the equator. Several other companies such as Boeing are also considering building communication satellites in this orbit.

This is not the first time that there is a race for communications in low Earth orbit. Efforts were also made in the early 1990s, the Motorola Iridium project to obtain satellite constellations. But the technology of the time could not keep pace with advances in cell phone technology, which led some providers to go bankrupt, while others ceased operations before launching a single satellite. Technology has evolved considerably since then, but history can make some investors nervous, which may have been the launch of Wednesday.

"The launch of Test Satellites by OneWeb is important because it allows (if successful) to minimize risk and initiate the flow of needed investments," said Chris Quilty, founder of the company's strategy for Space industry, Quilty Analytics. Forbes in an email.

Wednesday's launch is just the beginning of a long process for OneWeb to realize Wyler's vision. OneWeb will need 650 satellites in low Earth orbit by mid-2021 to provide global coverage. He plans to eventually have more than 2,000 in orbit. All will be launched by Arianespace; OneWeb signed a contract with the European launch supplier for 21 launches in 2015.

OneWeb already has customers ready and waiting for their data. In addition to this launch, the company also announced Wednesday at the Mobile World Congress the signing of its first two contracts with customers.

One with Talia Limited, based in the UK, is to provide its customers located in areas such as Africa and the Middle East with broadband internet access. The second is to provide telecommunication services to the Italian telecommunications company Intermatica to support its European customers.

"We are very excited about this. We move from an idea to a project into a business, "said Steckel.


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