July 1 2021 OneWeb launch (Source: OneWeb)

OneWeb successfully launches 36 satellites completing “Five to 50” program

Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite broadband provider OneWeb successfully put another 36 satellites into orbit today, July 1, 2021, bringing its total number of in-orbit spacecraft to 254.  With the completion of this launch, the company is ready to deliver connectivity across the United Kingdom, Canada, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, and the Arctic Region.

Today’s launch brings OneWeb’s in-orbit constellation to 40 percent of its planned fleet of 648 satellites to provide high-speed, low latency global connectivity.  OneWeb has nine more launches to complete to make global service available in 2022.

“This is a truly historic moment for OneWeb, the culmination of months of positive momentum in our ‘Five to 50’ program, increased investment from our global partners and the rapid onboarding of new customers,” said Neil Masterson, OneWeb CEO.  “We are incredibly excited to start delivering high-speed, low-latency connectivity first to the UK and the Arctic region and to see our network scale over the coming months as we continue building to global service.”

Service demonstrations will take place this summer in Alaska, Canada, and other locations as OneWeb prepares to roll out commercial service by the end of the year. Both U.S. senators from Alaska sent tweets today recognizing OneWeb’s launch and the company’s forthcoming ability to provide broadband to the state.

OneWeb has secured distribution partnerships across a number of industries, including BT, ROCK Network, AST Group, PDI, Alaska Communications and others. The company continues to talk with telecommunications providers, ISPs, and governments worldwide to offer its services and sees growing demand for its solutions.

Arianespace conducted the launch of the latest 36 satellites from the Vostochny Cosmodrom in Russia, with liftoff occurred on 1 July at 8:48 AM EDT. OneWeb’s satellites were dispensed in 9 batches over a period of almost four hours with initial check in on all 36 satellites confirmed.

OneWeb’s initial “Five for 50” (above the 50th parallel) service availability comes at an opportunity time for the company as the direct-to-consumer-focused SpaceX Starlink LEO broadband service continues to open up markets around the world, especially in Europe.  Both OneWeb and Telesat’s forthcoming Lightspeed LEO services are focused on delivering enterprise-level services which can be used for backhaul in remote and emerging markets.

Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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