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posted by martyb on Wednesday February 12 2020, @05:28AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Gives-new-meaning-to-World-Wide-Web dept.

OneWeb's first large batch of satellites launch on Arianespace Soyuz rocket

A Soyuz rocket launched 34 small broadband satellites for OneWeb Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, marking the beginning of a multi-launch campaign for the company.

[...] The launch expands OneWeb's constellation of low Earth orbiting satellites to 40, following a Soyuz launch last February that carried six satellites.

Adrian Steckel, OneWeb's chief executive, told SpaceNews the company has another batch of 34 satellites launching from Baikonur in March before the company plans to take a monthlong break to implement spacecraft software and hardware changes. After that pause, OneWeb plans to launch once in May and once in June before potentially shifting out of a monthly launch cadence, he said.

Steckel said OneWeb still plans to achieve global coverage by the end of 2021. The company is building its satellites in Florida through a joint venture with Airbus Defence and Space called OneWeb Satellites.

Counting Thursday's launch, OneWeb plans to conduct a total of 17 or 18 Soyuz launches and one Ariane 6 launch with Arianespace to orbit 588 satellites before the end of next year, Steckel said. After those launches, OneWeb will pause again before deciding a schedule for launching 60 spares, completing the 648-satellite first-generation constellation, he said.

See also:
Op-ed | SpaceX's adaptation to market changes
SpaceX Starlink is a step closer to beaming satellite internet to Australia

Previously:
OneWeb Joins the Satellite Internet Gold Rush this Week


Original Submission

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SpaceX Approved to Deploy 1 Million U.S. Starlink Terminals; OneWeb Reportedly Considers Bankruptcy 33 comments

SpaceX gets FCC license for 1 million satellite-broadband user terminals

SpaceX has received government approval to deploy up to 1 million user terminals in the United States for its Starlink satellite-broadband constellation.

SpaceX asked the Federal Communications Commission for the license in February 2019, and the FCC announced its approval in a public notice last week. The FCC approval is for "a blanket license for the operation of up to 1,000,000 fixed earth stations that will communicate with [SpaceX's] non-geostationary orbit satellite system." The license is good for 15 years.

[...] One million terminals would only cover a fraction of US homes, but SpaceX isn't necessarily looking to sign up huge portions of the US population. Musk said at the conference that Starlink will likely serve the "3 or 4 percent hardest-to-reach customers for telcos" and "people who simply have no connectivity right now, or the connectivity is really bad." Starlink won't have lots of customers in big cities like LA "because the bandwidth per cell is simply not high enough," he said.

SpaceX's main Starlink constellation competitor is running out of money

OneWeb, the only pressing competitor facing SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet constellation, has reportedly begun to consider filing for bankruptcy shortly before the London-based company completed its third dedicated launch.

OneWeb Joins the Satellite Internet Gold Rush this Week 11 comments

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

For the better part of a year, SpaceX has gotten the lion's share of attention when it comes to mega-constellations and satellite Internet.

[...] But it was actually another company, OneWeb, that launched the first six satellites of its mega-constellation back in February, 2019. Initial tests of those satellites went well, the company said last summer. Now OneWeb is preparing for its second launch of 34 satellites on board a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The launch is scheduled for 4:42pm ET (21:42 UTC) on Thursday, February 6.

On the eve of Thursday's launch, Ars spoke with OneWeb Chief Executive Officer Adrián Steckel about the company's plans and how it will compete with half a dozen other firms looking at providing Internet from space.

[...] "Right now, we’re the largest buyer of launch in the world," Steckel said. "In the future, as we look to our next phase of deployment, we're willing to buy rocket launches from SpaceX, Blue Origin, or whoever."

OneWeb has taken a different approach than SpaceX in terms of how it plans to interact with customers on the ground. SpaceX has opted to offer direct-to-consumer services with the intention of selling user terminals to acquire satellite from space and essentially functioning as a new Internet provider. OneWeb plans to partner with existing telecommunications companies, Steckel said.

[...] It's a model the company believes makes sense because the right answer for getting regulatory approval and delivering service in the United States or the Philippines or Indonesia will vary, Steckel said. "We're going to be doing business with partners around the world," Steckel said. "Our style is not confrontational. We're using a different model. It's a big world."

OneWeb plans to offer its first customer demonstrations by the end of 2020 and provide full commercial global services in 2021.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12 2020, @10:44AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12 2020, @10:44AM (#957158)

    So ... I wonder why they didn't use SpaceX for the launches? I can understand Ariane via Airbus Defence and Space but why Proton? Ariane doesn't want to give any money to SpaceX because spite or what?

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12 2020, @12:13PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12 2020, @12:13PM (#957167)

      Proton is cheap (compared to other expendable rockets) and reliable. Ariane was probably too big, and Proton just right for the lanch? SpaceX (Starlink) is a direct competitor for the same market.
      I can't vouch for the C-suite , but you may safely assume that at least engineering put a lot of reasoning behind this multi-millon-dollar choice.

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday February 12 2020, @05:22PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 12 2020, @05:22PM (#957268) Journal

        Iridium used SpaceX to replace its entire constellation recently. Some would say that Starlink might be a direct competitor.

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      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Wednesday February 12 2020, @05:32PM

        by Freeman (732) on Wednesday February 12 2020, @05:32PM (#957277) Journal

        While I wouldn't expect SpaceX to do anything that would harm their rocket launch business. I wouldn't be super comfortable giving my direct competitor more fuel to burn me with.

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  • (Score: 2) by esperto123 on Wednesday February 12 2020, @11:05AM (1 child)

    by esperto123 (4303) on Wednesday February 12 2020, @11:05AM (#957161)

    Is there any info on their satellites, like capacity, coverage area, how big are the user terminal antennas?
    I've read on another site that they will not sell directly to consumers, instead will sell capacity to local ISPs that then will sell it to end users. On one hand it seems to be a safer bet because they can sign few big contracts and don't have to deal with dumb users who can point the antenna up, but on the other it will probably make it much more expensive and it seems that star link will run circles around them.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday February 12 2020, @05:39PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday February 12 2020, @05:39PM (#957283) Journal

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OneWeb_satellite_constellation [wikipedia.org]

      I've read on another site that they will not sell directly to consumers, instead will sell capacity to local ISPs that then will sell it to end users. On one hand it seems to be a safer bet because they can sign few big contracts and don't have to deal with dumb users who can point the antenna up, but on the other it will probably make it much more expensive and it seems that star link will run circles around them.

      I've expected Starlink to do the exact same thing to attempt to insulate themselves from the dirty work of being an ISP.

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