OneWeb signs first wholesale customers as six satellites go into orbit

28 February 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Cover

OneWeb has successfully launched the first six of its planned 650 low-orbit satellites – and announced its first two wholesale customers.

A Russian Soyuz rocket launched the trial satellites late yesterday from the Arianespace space centre in French Guiana, and all six satellites were separated and put into orbit.

OneWeb founder Greg Wyler told Bloomberg in an interview: “There is a lot of hope in this rocket.”

The OneWeb satellites will operate 1,200km above the Earth’s surface, reducing the shortest round-trip latency – up to the satellite and back again – to around 8ms. It will operate as a wholesale telecoms carrier to industry customers.

OneWeb is one of a number of companies planning small, low-orbit satellites, but probably the best funded so far. Shareholders include SoftBank, Bharti Airtel, Virgin Group and Intelsat. 

Hours before the launch OneWeb announced teleport company Talia and internet of things (IoT) specialist Intermatica as its first two wholesale customers.

Talia has created a separate unit called Quika that will use OneWeb to deliver broadband connectivity to consumers in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere, using WiFi connections from ground terminals.

OneWeb said the service will come on stream for London-based Talia starting in 2021, with virtually all of Talia’s markets activated by 2023.

Rome-based Intermatica will offer broadband and voice over IP (VoIP) services for businesses in Europe.

Claudio Castellani, president and CEO of Intermatica, said: “Through this collaboration with OneWeb, we can further extend our service to installations in even the most remote locations, providing an unparalleled solution in terms of quality and performance.”

Talia’s president and CEO Alan Afrasiab said that OneWeb “will provide us with the high-speed broadband coverage for the Quika service, which we need to reach all our customers, removing geographic, speed and latency barriers”.

He added: Talia is working closely with the OneWeb team to design and tailor the OneWeb services for the Quika platform to rapidly meet the ever-increasing demand for high speed, low latency and ubiquitous connectivity from our customers.”