OneWeb’s next batch arrives; preps India launch

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Satellite broadband operator OneWeb, flush with $1 billion of insurance cover on its remaining 10 launches, is readying its business plans.

The operator already has 322 satellites in orbit out of its full constellation target of 648 craft and the latest batch of 36 satellites are being prepared by Arianespace for launch next month having arrived at Ignatievo Airport in Russia from their construction facility in Florida.

Meanwhile, Bharti, a major investor in OneWeb, is busy building two ground-based gateways in order to connect with the overhead satellites. OneWeb is aiming for a service introduction in India by mid-2022.

However, OneWeb – and potential rival Telesat of Canada as well as Elon Musk’s Starlink service – need clarity from India’s government on ‘landing rights’ and how the administration sees a sharing of spectrum. Questions have been asked over the 28 GHz band which is being looked at by satellite operators as well as cellular players in India.

Peng Zhao, heading APAC Government Affairs and Policy for OneWeb, told BusinessLine that India has created a new agency, IN-SPACe, to handle applications for capacity.

“This 28Ghz band is the only one available to satellite operators at the moment and is a bitter fight between the two industries. The question is that whether mobile operators really need that band, while 26GHz and many other 5G bands are available; on the other hand, if this band is taken away from satellite players, it is very difficult to do business and provide connectivity to those needing it the most,” commented Zhao.


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