Aerospace giant Boeing has formally applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to transfer one of its applications for a V-band satellite constellation to – until now – rival OneWeb, controlled by Greg Wyler.
OneWeb is planning to circle the planet with a mega-constellation of about 640 satellites, and to start services as soon as 2019, and working in the Ku-band about 1200 kms above the Earth. Japan’s SoftBank is a major investor in OneWeb, along with Qualcomm, Virgin Group, Intelsat, Coca-Cola and others. Airbus is already building the fleet’s initial ‘test’ satellites.
However, OneWeb – which started life as WorldVu, and registered in Jersey in the Channel Islands – also has FCC filings for another 1972 Ku-band satellites. However, what’s important in this suggested Boeing relationship is that OneWeb also has FCC filings in place for around 2000 satellites using the mostly unexploited V-band.
The Boeing news has them asking the FCC for permission to transfer a massive batch of 2956 satellites to a company (“SOM1101”) controlled by Mr Wyler. Boeing, in its filing, says it is not selling the rights attached to the FCC V-band filing to Wyler for a profit but simply wants its costs covered. “This amendment seeks to transfer the obligation to launch and operate the constellation to SOM1101, which is also well-qualified to bring the service to mass market,” says Boeing.
But to somewhat complicate the whole matter, Boeing is holding on to another FCC filing (made back in March 2017) that will also operate in the V-band. This particular filing is for a more modest 132 satellites.