FCC grants OneWeb US market access

The Federal Communications Commission has approved a request by WorldVu Satellites Limited, which does business as OneWeb, to access the United States satellite market. The action paves the way for OneWeb to provide broadband services using satellite technology that the FCC says holds unique promise to expand Internet access in remote and rural areas across the country.

This approval is the first of its kind for a new generation of large, non-geostationary-satellite orbit (NGSO), fixed-satellite service (FSS) systems. OneWeb proposes to access the US market for its global network of 720 low-Earth orbit satellites using the Ka (20/30 GHz) and Ku (11/14 GHz) frequency bands to provide global Internet connectivity. The satellite system will be authorised by the United Kingdom, but needs FCC approval to provide service in the US.

In order for large broadband network constellations to deliver services in the US, the FCC must approve their operations to ensure the satellite constellation does not cause interference to other users of the same spectrum and will operate in a way that manages the risk of collisions.

The Order and Declaratory Ruling adopted by the FCC outlines the conditions under which OneWeb will be permitted to provide service using its proposed NGSO FSS satellite constellation in the United States. As such, this FCC action provides a blueprint for the earth station licences that OneWeb, or its partners, will need to obtain before providing OneWeb’s proposed service in the United States.

OneWeb was the first of several entities to file a request seeking FCC authority to deploy a large constellation of NGSO FSS satellites to provide ubiquitous broadband services. The FCC is currently examining additional applications for the operation of NGSO FSS constellations, most of which include large numbers of satellites. The FCC says the action facilitates greater broadband offerings and competition in the United States.

OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture, equally owned by OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space, to design and build the 900 satellites of the OneWeb constellation, which will offer high-speed Internet with global coverage.
OneWeb’s mission is to enable affordable Internet access for everyone, connect every school on Earth, and bridge the digital divide by 2027. 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. It will transparently extend the networks of mobile operators and ISP’s to serve new coverage areas, bringing voice and data access to consumers, businesses, schools, healthcare institutions and other end users.

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