LONDON – OneWeb, the global communications company with a mission to connect governments, businesses and people everywhere, submitted a modification request to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to increase the number of satellites in its constellation up to 48,000 satellites. This larger OneWeb constellation will allow for greater flexibility to meet soaring global connectivity demands.
The global restrictions imposed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic have underscored the criticality of seamless broadband connectivity for economies, businesses, communities and individuals alike. Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellations can reach the most remote and rural areas as well as strategically important locations like the Arctic to provide government, safety and other needs requiring resilient, high-speed, low latency communications.
In 2017, OneWeb was the first LEO constellation to receive approval to provide connectivity services in the U.S. in the FCC's First Processing Round for Ku/Ka-band systems. Since then OneWeb has made considerable progress in the build-out of its system, having successfully launched 74 satellites to date, and developed a significant portion of its ground network. In August 2019, OneWeb met the requirements of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and succeeded in bringing into use its global priority spectrum rights in the Ku- and Ka-band. This new modification application, triggered in part by the FCC's announcement of a Second Processing Round for Ku/Ka-band systems, seeks to update OneWeb's existing U.S. authorization to match the latest system specifications, while also requesting an increase in satellites for the constellation.
Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb said: "We have always believed that LEO satellites must be part of converged broadband network strategies to enable forward-thinking governments and businesses to deliver much-needed reliable connectivity, create more pathways to 5G and connect to the IoT future everywhere on earth. This significant increase in the size of the OneWeb constellation enables long-term flexibility and ensures we will be ready for the demand, future growth, and technology changes to come."
In March, OneWeb was impacted by the Coronavirus and was forced to file for Chapter 11. The company continues the restructuring and sale process and has received considerable interest from parties worldwide.