The FCC this week gave OneWeb the green light to deploy a constellation of 720 low-Earth orbit satellites to provide broadband access in remote and rural locations across the country.
As specified in its application, OneWeb is aiming to use the Ka (20/30 GHz) and Ku (11/14 GHz) frequency bands to provide global internet connectivity, particularly in remote and rural areas. With the approval in hand, OneWeb Founder and Executive Chairman Greg Wyler said the company is planning to launch services in Alaska as early as 2019.
“The FCC’s decision today, to grant market access to OneWeb, is an important step in helping to bring much needed low latency broadband access to Americans living in remote and hard to serve areas,” Wyler commented. “OneWeb’s affordable ubiquitous broadband infrastructure will enable our Solution Partner ISP’s to create new opportunities for rural America in healthcare, education, and business, leading to a more digitally inclusive society.”
According to the Commission, the approval is the first of its kind for a large, non-geostationary-satellite orbit, fixed-satellite service system. OneWeb was the first to submit an application for approval, but similar requests from “several” other entities seeking to deploy large numbers of satellites are also being reviewed, the FCC indicated. The FCC noted OneWeb’s application in particular was also waived on by officials in the United Kingdom.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who has made bridging the broadband divide a key issues of his tenure, heralded the move as a win for consumers.
“This Order lays the foundation for deployment of future low-Earth orbit satellites while establishing carefully measured standards to ensure that these NGSO constellations will not interfere with their terrestrial or geostationary counterparts,” he said. “The Order provides that OneWeb will need to accommodate in-line interference avoidance and spectrum sharing with other NGSOs in the future … We hope to approve many more constellations because we know that the more companies compete, the more consumers win.”
OneWeb brings with it nearly $2 billion in funding from backers including Qualcomm, Virgin Group, and Sprint parent company SoftBank. The latter alone contributed $1 billion in the project and became a strategic partner with a SoftBank Director on OneWeb’s board.
Filed Under: Infrastructure