OneWeb sends a further 34 broadband satellites into orbit

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OneWeb continues to gain momentum after sending a further 34 of its broadband satellites into orbit.

Arianespace launched the satellites from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on 21 August at 23:13 BST. The satellites were dispensed in nine batches over a period of three hours 45 minutes and successful contact was made with all satellites.

Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb, commented:

“Following the successful completion of our ‘Five to 50’ mission, we are building on our success and embarking on an ambitious back-to-back launch programme until the end of 2021.

We are seeing huge demand for our services from global customers, and we are incredibly excited about scaling our network ahead of its commercial launch.

This success is down to our talented team and partners around the world, who continue to work relentlessly every day to deliver OneWeb’s constellation and bring connectivity to those in the hardest to reach places.”

OneWeb’s largest stakeholder was the UK Government until an additional $500 million investment from Bharti Global in June gave the Indian multinational conglomerate a 39 percent stake.

“In just a year and during a global pandemic, together we have transformed OneWeb, bringing the operation back to full-scale,” said Shravin Mittal, Managing Director of Bharti Global, in June. 

OneWeb continues to attract significant investment with other shareholders including Softbank, Eutelsat, Hanwha, and Hughes Network Group.

While far behind industry-leader Starlink in the sheer number of satellites deployed (1735 vs 288 as of writing), OneWeb is emerging as one of the strongest competitors for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Executive Chairman of OneWeb, said:

“OneWeb represents a unique opportunity for investors at a key moment in the commercialisation of space. 

With its global ITU LEO spectrum priority, telco partnerships, successful launch momentum, and reliable satellites,OneWeb is ready to serve the vital needs of high-speed broadband connectivity for those who have been left behind.

Nation-states can accelerate their universal service obligations, telcos, their backhaul, and enterprise/governments can serve remote installations.”

OneWeb signed an agreement with BT in June to explore how connectivity can be improved in some of the most difficult areas.

The company says that it remains on track to deliver global service in 2022 but has scaled back its plans for ‘phase 2’ of its constellation from 48,000 satellites to 6,372.

(Image Credit: Roscosmos, TsENKI)

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