OneWeb plans ‘gen two’ satellites as it signs $73m terminal deal

OneWeb plans ‘gen two’ satellites as it signs $73m terminal deal

Sunil Bharti Mittal white bkgd.jpg

Satellite company OneWeb has signed a contract worth US$73 million for user terminals.

The supplier will be South Korean company Intellian, which already makes a range of satellite receiving equipment for users from shipping to government and military worlds.

Intellian Technologies CEO Eric Sung said the OneWeb “is set to transform satellite communications by delivering cost-effective connectivity and enhanced user experience to multiple markets”.

OneWeb, which was rescued from bankruptcy last year by India’s Bharti Global and the UK government, plans to start commercial services in part of the world in October 2021, executive chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal (pictured) tells Capacity in an interview published today.

There will be complete 24-hour coverage of everywhere between 50°N latitude and the North Pole after the commercial launch. The London-based company will extend coverage to the whole world by May or June 2022, once all 648 OneWeb satellites are in service.

OneWeb’s most recent launch, after its rescue, was in December 2020, using French company Arianespace, from Russia’s new Vostochny cosmodrome close to the Chinese border. The next launch, also from Vostochny, will be on 25 March, Capacity understands from OneWeb.

Intellian’s receivers will not be available in time for the October 2021 commercial launch. The vendor said: “The new low cost compact terminals will be unveiled later in the year and are scheduled to become available in 2022.” Nor has Intellian suggested a price per terminal, or given details of the numbers that it plans to make.

Sung said: “This is another significant milestone for Intellian: we believe that innovation and ease of use are key to empowering connectivity, and the work jointly announced today by Intellian and OneWeb is fundamental to our goal to enable a globally connected world.”

Michele Franci, chief of system delivery at OneWeb, said: “We have a clear ambition to be a leader in the transformation of space communications technology. We are delighted to continue our work with Intellian to develop a range of user terminals that meet the needs of our customers in many different sectors including: small, medium and large enterprises; and major vertical sectors such as enterprise, maritime and governments with mission-critical applications.”

In the interview with Capacity, Mittal said that “three or four” companies are developing receivers for OneWeb. “Let’s say before Christmas this year the UK will have them in their homes,” he added.

In the interview he also reveals that the second generation of OneWeb satellites, due to be in service in 2024-25, will include positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) facilities, designed to allow the company to compete with other satellite navigation services such as the EU’s Galileo, Russia’s Glonass and the US’s GPS.



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