Eutelsat has made a significant investment in London-based OneWeb, which is developing a satellite constellation to provide internet connections. The Paris-based firm is investing $550 million (£400 million) in OneWeb for a 24 percent stake.
Here is what going to happen during our 3 hours and 52 minutes long mission! 🚀
See you at 10:14 pm (UTC) for our live feed!#Starsem #OneWebLaunch #ST31@OneWeb @OneWebSatellit1 @AirbusSpace pic.twitter.com/XGBEHgRP58
— Arianespace (@Arianespace) April 25, 2021
This will be seen as a strong endorsement of the OneWeb project. Eutelsat is one of the top three satellite-telecom providers for “fixed networks,” such as direct-to-home television, internet, and data connections. Last year, the British government and Indian conglomerate Bharti Global bought OneWeb out of bankruptcy, and Eutelsat will now share equal governance rights with them. The investment also fills a funding gap that OneWeb needs to finish its mega-constellation in the sky.
It launched 36 more spacecraft on Sunday, bringing the total number of spacecraft in orbit to 182. However, initially, 648 will be needed to provide internet connectivity all over the world. The London firm, which is based in the old BBC buildings in White City, estimated that the project would cost around $1 billion to complete at the start of the year.
New CEO Neil Masterson said Tuesday
“We are delighted with the investment from Eutelsat, which validates our strategy, technology, and commercial approach,” said new CEO Neil Masterson on Tuesday. “We now have 80 percent of the funding needed for the Gen 1 fleet, with nearly 30 percent already in orbit,” says the company. OneWeb’s market entry prospects are aided by Eutelsat’s global distribution network.
“And we’re looking forward to collaborating to seize the growth potential and accelerate execution.” Eutelsat’s satellites operate from geostationary orbit, which is about 36,000 kilometers (22,000 miles) above the Earth and provides a fixed, continuous view of the area on the Earth’s surface they cover.
OneWeb is launching a mega constellation
OneWeb, on the other hand, is launching its mega-constellation into LEO, just 1,200 kilometers above the earth. Users will notice a significant reduction in the time it takes to make an online request and receive a response, with tens of milliseconds compared to hundreds of milliseconds for GEO satellites.
And, according to Eutelsat CEO Rodolphe Belmer, combining LEO and GEO would open up new business opportunities. “In the run-up to its commercial launch later this year, we are excited to become a shareholder and investor in OneWeb and to engage in the significant potential represented by the LEO segment within our industry,” he said. “Thanks to its early market entry, priority spectrum rights, and emerging, scalable technology, we are confident in OneWeb’s right to win.”
Major television networks
Starlink, which is being set up by the Californian rocket company SpaceX, is OneWeb’s main competitor in the LEO internet mega-constellation market. More than 1,300 Starlink satellites are currently in orbit, with thousands more on the way. In this area, there are a number of other big projects in the works, including:
- Kuiper, a division of Amazon.com Inc.
- Telesat, a long-established Canadian satellite communications corporation, has announced Lightspeed, a mega-constellation venture.
The European Union and the Chinese government are both discussing the development of large networks.