OneWeb: Investor Write Down

Japanese technology giant Softbank has written down the value of its stake in British satellite maker OneWeb by £380m, the Telegraph can reveal.

OneWeb, which is backed by Softbank, Airbus and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, has burned through billions in investor cash for its plans to launch a web of hundreds of low-orbit satellites.

Softbank took an impairment loss on its stake in OneWeb earlier this year, while some early investors have lost as much as half of the value of their stakes, a source said.

Founded in 2012, OneWeb is one of Britain’s technology “unicorns”, a start-up valued at more than $1bn.

It hopes to launch hundreds of satellites to improve mobile and internet connections…

 

This not good news for OneWeb who seem to be having problems getting spacecraft launched.

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OneWeb Secures Global Spectrum Further Enabling Global Connectivity Services

OneWeb, whose mission is to connect everyone everywhere, is pleased to announce it has succeeded in bringing into use its spectrum rights in the Ku- and Ka-band spectrum.

To achieve this milestone, OneWeb’s satellites have been transmitting at the designated frequencies in the correct orbit for more than 90 days, enabling OneWeb to meet the requirements to secure spectrum bands over which it has priority rights under ITU rules and regulations.

These rights will now be confirmed as the UK administration, which has filed our satellite system with the ITU, will complete the required Notification and Registration process of the company’s LEO network.

“Spectrum is a scarce resource and the ITU plays a vital role in the global management for access. The harsh reality for anyone trying to make a real impact on global connectivity is that no matter how good your network is, success is not possible without the right spectrum. With our spectrum now in use, OneWeb has proved it can bring together all the elements required – in space, on the ground, and in between – to change the face of connectivity everywhere”, said Ruth Pritchard-Kelly, Vice President of Regulatory for OneWeb.

By meeting the requirements of the ITU regulations, OneWeb is well on its way to securing spectrum rights to high priority Ku-band spectrum for service links, and Ka-band for its global gateways. It will now have access to over 6 GHz of spectrum that will enable it to deliver its high-speed, low latency connectivity.

Continue reading at SpaceDaily.com

 

Space Needs to Be Regulated Before Humans Ruin It

By Greg Wyler for CNN Business Perspectives

My company, OneWeb, is focusing on what I believe is one of the world’s most pressing and fundamental issues: the need for equal access to the internet. The internet has become our economic lifeblood. And yet, nearly half the world’s population doesn’t have internet access.

Space is playing a crucial role in bridging this digital divide. OneWeb is launching 1,980 satellites to help bring internet access to people everywhere, and our first production satellites are already flying in space and have demonstrated very high download speeds.

Fiber and cable internet access technologies already permeate major cities where deployment is most financially viable. Similarly, these regions will also be the first to be served with 5G. Poor communities are the last to get connected, and without connectivity, those communities have no chance to lift themselves from poverty. OneWeb’s satellites will reach every community in the world and enable equal access to the internet for the world’s unserved and underserved.

Fifty years from the day when man first walked on the moon, we are still only approaching the possible. There will be tens of thousands of new satellites, space stations and manufacturing hubs in the coming years to bring advancements in communications, scientific research, monitoring the earth, exploring space and more.

This is exciting, but we must move carefully. The space environment around us is a pivotal resource for the future of humanity. Like our oceans and rainforests, space seems large, foreboding and infinitely strong. However, it turns out the low-earth orbit space environment is just as fragile as earth’s and, without carefully thinking it through, humanity can irreversibly destroy it — and fast.

Continue reading HERE.

 

OneWeb Plans to Start Monthly Launches in December

SpaceDaily has the details:

Internet firm OneWeb plans to begin launching 35 to 40 communications satellites a month in December, and has 27 Soyuz rocket missions lined up through European launch company Arianespace to send them aloft, company officials said in Florida on Monday.

“Those are the best rockets we could find for the quality, price and capability we were looking for,” OneWeb founder and executive chairman Greg Wyler said. “We will not be launching from Florida for now.”

Company officials emphasized that OneWeb is a commercial firm looking to make a profit, but also has a mission to provide high-speed Internet access to parts of the globe where access is difficult. It plans to work with schools in developing nations to help them afford Internet connectivity.

OneWeb announced in 2017 that it had purchased five launches from Jeff Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin. That firm is building its planned New Glenn rocket near OneWeb’s satellite plant next to Kennedy Space Center. But that’s off the table for the immediate future, Wyler said. The New Glenn still is being developed.

“At some point, we will launch with Blue Origin,” Wyler said. “They are building a large rocket safely.”

Continue reading HERE.

 

Jeff Bezos Explains Amazon’s Bet on Project Kuiper Satellites

Geek Wire has the details

For the first time in public, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explained the rationale for his risky Project Kuiper satellite broadband venture, during a fireside chat that was interrupted when an animal rights activist jumped on stage.

[. . .]

When Freshwater asked Bezos to name a “big bet” that Amazon has taken recently, he focused on Project Kuiper, the plan to put more than 3,200 satellites in low Earth orbit for global broadband coverage. The project came to light in April, and seems likely to be based in Bellevue, Wash. Here’s how Bezos explained his bet:

“The goal here is broadband everywhere, but the very nature of [having] thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit is very different from geostationary satellites. … You have equal broadband all over the surface of Earth. Not exactly equal, it tends to be a lot more concentrated toward the poles, unfortunately.

“But you end up servicing the whole world. So it’s really good. By definition you end up accessing people who are ‘under-bandwidthed.’ Very rural areas, remote areas. And I think you can see going forward that internet, access to broadband is going to be very close to being a fundamental human need as we move forward.

“So Project Kuiper has that. It’s also a very good business for Amazon because it’s a very high-capex [capital expenditure] undertaking. It’s multiple billions of dollars of capex. … Amazon is a large enough company now that we need to do things that, if they work, can actually move the needle.”

Amazon has already turned on its global satellite control networks, mostly located at it’s Global Data Centers strategically placed around the globe. As a significant provider of cloud services, LEO satellite delivery systems makes good business sense. It is the last link to providing cloud services to every business on the planet, at a highly competitive rate, compared to competitors like Microsoft Asure, IBM Cloud and lesser-known cloud companies relying on existing fiber network infrastructure. Amazon will be able to reach more global customers faster with competitive cloud service rates. More HERE.

The top ten cloud service companies are:

Kamatera.
phoenixNAP.
Amazon Web Services.
Microsoft Azure.
Google Cloud Platform.
Adobe.
VMware.
IBM Cloud.

After Amazon, only Google has made a move toward having an LEO satellite distribution system, partnering with Telesat and adapting Project Loon to LEO applications

Loon adapting connection routing ‘network brain’ from balloons to low Earth orbit satellites

While I admire and root for SpaceX, who is building a top-down system, Amazon is taking a bottom-up approach, building on existing reliable infrastructure and capping it with a fleet of LEO satellites has a higher probability of succeeding.  The open question is can Amazon catch SpaceX and OneWeb who have birds in space.

Competition, Competition, Competition

by Russ Steele

One thing that activates the telco and cable providers is competition. How are they going to deal with the competition from SpaceX, OneWeb, Amazon, and other LEO high-speed internet providers? These innovators are circling the legacy communications provider like a hunger coyote looking for a rabbit lunch.

In the past, the telcos use their political muscle to keep the competition under control at every opportunity. They spend millions on lawyers and lobbyist to shape legislation to stifle competition rather than spend their profits on providing superiors service.

For example, in the early days of WiFi, a Texas University was wiring up the campus. Next door to the University was some low-income housing, and the University wanted to share their WiFi with the low-income neighbors. According to the story I heard, AT&T sent 25 lawyers down to the State Legislature to stop this sharing of free WiFi. AT&T abhors competition!

We are going to see a significant upheaval in the internet market when the LEO satellites networks are established and fully functional. Today the phone and cable companies are providing marginal broadband services at a high cost to the consumer. Why, because they can, they are the only provider, with no competition.

There are millions of DSL customers poised to jump once a competitive broadband service is offered. Some communities have pinned their hope on 5G for more reliable service at higher speeds, but that technology rollout is controlled by the telco providers who are not going to provide competing service. On the other hand, they will have little control over the satellite internet service providers, unless they cut backhaul deals that incorporate some competition restrictions.

I can hear the conversation now, “If you sign this 5G backhaul contract, you cannot sell your broadband to our 4G/5G customers.”

The cable companies are losing customers to the cord cutters and streamers. While cutting the video cord, streams still need a broadband connection. In many cases, the cable internet service is the only connection, and it comes at a high price. Why, because the cable companies have no competitive incentive to reduce rates.

In many communities with only telco DSL or an aging cable plant available providing broadband access, LEO broadband will be the first time there will be some competitive service. The question is, how will the telco and cable companies deal with that competition?

They can lower the price for their marginal services, but the customer still has unreliable slow speed internet access, whereas the LEO satellites are offering much higher speeds, and hopefully more reliable service. All the LEO satellite service challenge are still unknowns.

In the end, the superior service will win if the cost is reasonable. Amazon is a significant disruptor in the retail sector, and space-based internet is going to be a substantial disruptor in the telecommunications sector.

How will the telcos respond?  Your thoughts?

Amazon’s Broadband Network from the Ground Up

Amazon has not launched any LEO Broadband Satellites like SpaceX, OneWeb and Telesat but they already have a ground station network for controlling satellites, uploading and downloading data. Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services, announces its availability in the video below:

The AWS Ground Station Network is a fully managed, ready-to-go ground station service, featuring:

  • No upfront cost.
  • Scaleability — you only pay for antenna time.
  • No long-term contract.
  • Self-service scheduling on a per-minute basis, that can be changed dynamically using their ground station console.
  • Secure transmission.
  • Low latency due to proximity to Amazon data centers.
  • Integration with EC2, S3 and other Amazon services and Amazon’s global network backbone.
  • Simultaneous up/download.
  • Support of most common communication frequencies.

 

The open question is will SpaceX, OneWeb and Telesat use this service?