OneWeb launches its first satellites to bring Internet connectivity to everyone, everywhere; first to launch 5G network in space
- Launch of first six satellites is the first step on the path to delivering true global connectivity and bridging the digital divide
- Launch signals the beginning of the largest satellite launch campaign in history and the transition from successful proof-of-concept to the commercialization of OneWeb
Half the world is unconnected. The unconnected are missing out but the connected are missing out just as much. OneWeb, a global communications startup company with a mission to bring connectivity to everyone, everywhere, today announced the successful launch of its first six broadband satellites aboard a Soyuz launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. The satellites were launch in a circular orbit 1000 km (620 mi) above Earth.
The lift-off occurred on February 27th at 21:37 pm UTC. The six OneWeb satellites separated from the rocket in two batches. Signal acquisition has been confirmed for all six satellites. OneWeb’s satellites are manufactured by OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space. The successful launch places OneWeb as a viable competitor to SpaceX’s Starlink and Boeing as global internet race hearts up.
Designed as a constellation of approximately 650-900 satellites, OneWeb’s mission is to provide uninterrupted Internet access across the world with a focus on affordability for those living without a basic communications infrastructure. Assuming OneWeb’s first six spacecraft operate nominally in orbit, the first phase of the company’s constellation could be completed by late 2020 or early 2021, leading to initial operations with customers actually able to access the internet through their spacecraft.
Founded in 2011 by Greg Wyler, its mission is to address the most demanding global connectivity challenges and sudden infrastructure crises. OneWeb is the first to launch 5G network in space. Its mission is to enable Internet access for everyone, everywhere. OneWeb is building a communications network with a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites that will provide connectivity to billions of people around the world. Its high speed, low latency network will offer game-changing mobility solutions to industries that rely on global connectivity.
This launch marks both the beginning of the largest satellite launch campaign in history and the transition from successful proof-of-concept to the commercialization of OneWeb. Launching more than 30 satellites per rocket, OneWeb’s monthly launch program will grow its constellation to more than 650 satellites to allow customer demos in 2020 and provide full global commercial coverage by 2021.
The OneWeb network will provide a unique combination of high data throughput, low latency, true global coverage to the poles, and a range of user terminals for multiple markets. OneWeb’s satellites will communicate with Earth via the Ka and Ku spectrum bands. The Ka-band will be used for communication between the Ground Network (which connects the OneWeb system to the Internet) and the satellites; while the Ku band will be used for communication between the satellites and the user terminals that will deliver Internet connectivity to consumers.
OneWeb announced yesterday the signing of its first two customers, highlighting the demand for global coverage solutions. OneWeb’s business model allows OneWeb to provide service indirectly through reseller partners, or directly to the end customer, in the case of airlines or vessel operators, for example.
Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb, said: “This successful launch is a historic milestone for OneWeb, and marks the start of a new phase for our company as we begin scaling our satellite constellation in preparation to start full commercial services. I am also proud that we were able to announce the signing of our first two customers, demonstrating demand for OneWeb’s services.
“OneWeb was founded to make access possible for everyone, everywhere, and this launch is the first step towards making our goal a reality and bringing much-needed Internet access to people no matter where they are.”
Adrian Steckel continued: “Our system will be able to offer significantly lower latency and faster speeds. We designed our system to create a coverage footprint over the entire planet – including previously unconnected rural areas, seas, and airspaces.
“Our world is increasingly connected, and we do not want to leave anyone behind. Our constellation will level the playing field and connect the communities, areas, and industries that have until now been excluded from fast, reliable Internet access. What we are undertaking here is a project of ambitious scale, and I’m enormously proud of the team for getting us to this important milestone.”
To celebrate OneWeb’s first launch and in keeping with the mission and vision of the company, OneWeb is making a commitment to connect six schools in six unconnected regions of the world. A campaign called #EmpowerHumanity, OneWeb will connect a school in: Alaska, Ecuador, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, and Rwanda. Each school has in turn chosen a name for OneWeb’s first six satellites. Members of the OneWeb team have travelled to these schools to meet with the students and to teach them about satellites and space. You can learn more about the Empower Humanity campaign and see more about the schools themselves by visiting the OneWeb website or through our social media channels: Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.