Starlink Competitor OneWeb Targets First 34 Satellites in February 2020

OneWeb is competitor to the SpaceX Starlink satellite system. OneWeb successfully launched 6 test satellites and plans a February 7, 2020 Soyuz launch of its first 34 commercial satellites.

OneWeb plans a 600 satellite system with 48 spare satellites. OneWeb would need 18 successful Soyuz launches to deploy their satellites. The first launch was already delayed from November 2019. They have ordered 21 Soyuz launches from Arianespace. They hope to get all the satellites up by the end of 2021.

OneWeb is around one year behind SpaceX. SpaceX now has 180 production satellites in orbit. SpaceX is four successful launches from a minimum coverage system and ten from moderate coverage. SpaceX should have minimum coverage by April 2020 and moderate coverage by the middle of 2020. SpaceX should have full 1600 phase 1 coverage around the first quarter of 2021.

The satellites in the OneWeb constellation are approximately 150 kg (330 lb) in mass. The OneWeb satellites will be 18 polar orbit planes at 1,200 kilometers (750 mi) altitude.

The SpaceX Starlink satellites are in 500-550 kilometer orbits.

The satellites will operate in the Ku band, communicating in the microwave range of frequencies in the 12–18 GHz portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The user terminal antenna on the ground will be a phased array antenna measuring approximately 36 by 16 centimeters (14.2 by 6.3 in) and will provide Internet access at 50 megabits/second downlink bandwidth.

In 2015, Samsung announced a 4600-satellite constellation orbiting at 1,400 kilometers (900 mi) that would have 200 gigabytes per month of internet data for the total system. Amazon announced a large broadband internet satellite constellation in April 2019, planning to launch 3,236 satellites in the next decade. Amazon calls it Project Kuiper.

Samsung and Amazon have no launches scheduled.

11 thoughts on “Starlink Competitor OneWeb Targets First 34 Satellites in February 2020”

  1. Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

    Far too many people don’t think about what could go wrong. However, I’m thinking that Musk has put a hell of a lot of thought into it. (Look at how quickly he got the Falcon series returning to reuse the stages. Think there wasn’t a lot of ‘Okay, how can THIS bite us?’ sort of analysis at every stage of the process?)

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  2. That might not be so hot for someone located comfortably close to fiber-connected (sub)urban streets. But for rural and remote populations, this can be a multi-year dream. As a rural Australian, my personal journey to broadband connectivity took me from conventional geo-stationary satellite offering 15GB of data per month at horrendous 600ms latency minimum, to carefully tracking the progress of wireless broadband towers being built in my area for years as part of the Australian National Broadband Network public works project until we could finally obtain 25/5 megabits of connectivity….. Only to find (once towers were complete and commenced operation) that we were just a couple of kilometres outside the service footprint. In the end I cobbled together a system with the help of a neighbor within the service footprint to relay the signal 3 km to my house, which has operated nicely for a few years now.

    In actual fact, my broadband connection (extra bounces notwithstanding) outperforms some suburban connections which are either not rural enough to have towers built in the area, but also not metropolitan enough to have the frail and patchy ADSL2+ service upgraded for months or years longer.

    Starlink satellites will de-orbit after just a few years, and assuming SpaceX has the capability of launching many, many more in future, the short lifetime might result in a much more rapid iteration of the speed and capacity of the system, outpacing networks with terrestrial limitations.

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  3. 50Mb/sec isnt that bad. For HD-quality playback, Netflix recommends 5 megabits per second, and for Ultra HD (4K) quality, it recommends 25 megabits per second. Note that these are the minimums for one stream

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  4. Musk said he believes “the satellite constellation can support no more than 3-5% of the global population”

    “For SpaceX, each Starlink satellite – per official statements that the first 60 satellites represent more than 1 terabit of bandwidth – likely offers bandwidth of roughly 17-20 gigabits per second. In simpler terms, this means that one Starlink satellite overhead could theoretically support as many as 4000 users simultaneously streaming YouTube videos at 1080p/30fps, a figure that sounds impressive but glosses over the sheer number of people that live in cities”

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  5. Like cable broadband blew out 56k modems, and fiber’s blown out the expectations for broadband…

    Finally got AT&T Fiber where we live – I’m getting a consistent 1.2 gigabyte/sec download speed, about 900 megabyte up. The problems now seem to be with the servers on the OTHER end shoving out data fast enough, lol.

    I’m hoping that Starlink will match those speeds. I’ll be surprised if they do (I’m expecting more in the range of 100-300 megabyte/sec) but I’m hoping!

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  6. It would be kinda hot if it was 6.25 megabytes per second planet-wide access.

    But Starlink is about to upheaval that market’s expectations of speed and price. So OneWeb would remain kinda hot only a short while, until Starlink leaves it in the dust.

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  7. Well, if you get good cell signal, it’s almost always better to use 4G LTE than satellite. At least until SpaceX offers low-latency, gigabit internet with Starlink..

    For $80/month(for the first 6 months), HughesNet offers 30GB of data at 25Mbps. Now, for only $75/month added to a MetroPCS plan(which runs on T-Mobile network), I can get 30GB of 4G LTE hotspot data. On hotspot, I get up to 120Mbps at my house. That’s pretty good.

    Or, for just $60/month, when added to a Sprint account, I can get 100GB of LTE hotspot per month, which, at my house, averages about ~50Mbps according to people who have Sprint. When 5G is deployed in my area, that Sprint hotspot will have it.

    On Boost Mobile(runs on Sprint network), $60/month gets me 50GB of hotspot data. Same ~50Mbps as Sprint.

    Or, on Metro, I can use my phone plan, for a $60/month, which gives me unlimited phone data, and 15GB of hotspot. And, add 2 recurring 10GB add-ons, which gives me 35GB of hotspot for $100/month. But that $100/month gives me unlimited phone data, which is the majority of my data usage anyways.

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  8. another almost bankrupt internet satellite operator… I had Hughes net for a year… I wanted to throw the dish off the roof after a month of realizing the data plan was just as bad as a 4g cellphone hotspot… kind of makes you wonder…what’s the point of it

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  9. 50 megabit/sec download? That’s about 6.25 megabytes/sec.

    Um. That’s not so hot…

    I don’t think they’re going to be a great threat to SpaceX unless they’ve got hidden capacity they’ll be able to tap.

    Plus, Amazon and Samsung seem to not have anything ready. And the last Samsung article seems to be 2015.

    Guess we’ll see, but I’m thinking they’re just going through the motions at this point. Amazon may come up with something, but…?

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