Iridium has 66 satellites in orbit, while OneWeb plans to populate space with at least 650 satellites.
At Iridium’s partner conference in California, the two signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate on a combined service for clients.
The two operate on different frequencies so are not direct competitors. Iridium’s $3 billion Next constellation operates in L-band and sells its high-speed (up to 1.4 Mb/s) service as Iridium Certus.
The OneWeb service- backed in the main by Japan’s SoftBank, when it starts will use Ku-band although spread across the eventual system it will be capable of delivering hundreds of megabits per second. Typically, says OneWeb, its users will want access to 50 Mb/s.
The proposed ‘pairing’ service is expected to include joint physical products with user terminals which can access both systems.
OneWeb has a half-dozen satellites in orbit but will start larger deployments this coming December. Partial services should begin by the end of 2020, with a complete service during 2021.