OneWeb will begin offering customer demonstrations next year and full Internet service from space anywhere on the planet in 2021.
Son’s Softbank Group, Branson’s Virgin Group and other investors have supplied OneWeb with about $2 billion in backing so far, as the startup races against rivals large and small to offer much faster Internet connections from satellites than are available now. The race includes everyone from Elon Musk’s SpaceX and existing satellite-based Internet providers Viasat (VSAT, +0.29%) and EchoStar’s (SATS, -0.75%) Hughes Network Systems to dozens of upstarts like Swarm Technologies, Astrocast, and Sky and Space Global. SpaceX and Swarm have reached the satellite-launch phase too, as have Viasat and Hughes, which are already looking to upgrade those in use.
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With a plethora is space-based internet options will rural America need 5G? It appears that rural America will have high-speed internet access from space long before the ten years 5G build-out gets to rural communities. The initial 5G installations will be in dense urban areas and then migrate to the edge of suburbia, with rural communities last on the list, if they are ROI viable. It appears that rural communities will have multiple space-based internets services to choose from. Competition should keep the costs as low or lower than 5G.