The Forrester Report: Is the OneWeb Model Doomed?

Senior Columnist Chris Forrester

Senior Columnist Chris Forrester examines the problems surrounding OneWeb, not the least of which is the September 10th lawsuit filed against OneWeb and that firm’s financial backer, SoftBank, and he examines OneWeb’s prospects.

September was a good month/bad month for LEO operator OneWeb. The good news was the firm’s technical link up with Iridium. Announced on September 17, the pair signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at Iridium’s client conference at Coronado, California. Iridium and OneWeb are likely to see a bundled/twin-frequency service offering.

The two have yet to determine how the ‘partnership’ will work; however, combined terminal equipment is one probability. They each use different transmission frequencies (Iridium uses L-band, OneWeb is Ku-band based).

But as good as this relationship is, the September 19 news that Intelsat was suing OneWeb (and its financial backer media giant, SoftBank) for “breach of contract, fraud and conspiracy” — and with Intelsat seeking court-ordered compensation damages, punitive damages as well as demanding an end to OneWeb and SoftBank’s “willful breach” of their commercial relationship with Intelsat certainly is not a positive business environment.

The jury will, in time, determine the merits of Intelsat’s case — and remember, there has been no counter-argument filed yet — but it is now reasonable to suggest that any attempt by OneWeb to secure significant injections of cash must now be put on hold until this case wraps up and that may take time to adjudicate.

Within the Court filing, Intelsat alleges that SoftBank has been trying to sell its OneWeb stake and had changed its mind as to OneWeb’s prospects. The writ also provides details that OneWeb had also changed its mind as to how it would build its business.

The writ specifically alleges that the OneWeb and SoftBank conspired together in stealing confidential information, because — the writ states — SoftBank no longer believed in the OneWeb project and was seeking to protect its previous investment in OneWeb.

The full article at Satellite Magazine is HERE.

 

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Rural Telcom De-regulation — Prompts Competition from Space

Doug Dawson has an excellent post in Pots and Pans on the impact regulators had on the lack of rural broadband.

Rural America should never have been deregulated. Shame on every regulator in every state that voted to deregulate the big telcos in rural America. Shame on every regulator that allowed companies like Verizon palm off their rural copper to companies like Frontier – a company that cannot succeed, almost by definition.

In rural America the telcos have a physical network monopoly and the regulators should have found ways to support rural copper rather than letting the telcos walk away from it. We know this can be done by looking at the different approaches taken by the smaller independent telephone companies. These small companies took care of their copper and most have now taken the next step to upgrade to fiber to be ready for the next century.

The full post is HERE.

Doug writes: “The big telcos started abandoning rural America as much as thirty years ago. They’ve stopped maintaining copper and have not voluntarily made any investments in rural America for a long time. There was a burst of rural construction recently when the FCC gave them $11 billion to improve rural broadband to 10/1 Mbps – but that doesn’t seem to be drawing many rural subscribers.”

The launch of the low earth-orbiting satellite broadband networks by SpaceX, OneWeb, and Amazon are going to provide rural users alternatives to the poor service and slow speeds offered by the telcos. The LEO ISPs are promising “fiber-like services” to rural customers starting in 2020, with full service by 2021.

One of the challenges will be the start-up costs, which are forecast to be in the $300 to 500 dollar range. The monthly fee of those services is presently an unknown but is expected to be competitive with existing fiber services.

SpaceX is expecting a high demand for their “fiber-like services” from space. They have requested permission to launch up to 42,000 Starlink satellites, 12,000 that are already approved plus 30,000 more to meet the expected global demand. This YouTube video has some details and attractive graphics:

https://youtu.be/z93a9OUJfOA

Bank of America: 15 Radical Technologies Will Transform the Future

One of those technologies is LEO satellites:

BofA said nanosatellites could play a crucial role in connecting nearly 41 per cent of the population that is still not connected to the internet. These are small satellites providing more affordable access to space and universal satellite internet access.

The global nano and microsatellite market is set to grow at a 22.2 per cent compound annual growth rate over the next six years from $1.3bn in 2018 to $5.2bn in 2025.

Tech giant Amazon has already applied for permission to launch 3,236 satellites and it would positively impact the fields of space, military, telecoms, communications, science and remote sensing.

I guess BofA does not know about the SpaceX StarLink and OneWeb satellites that are in orbit.  Both companies have a robust launch schedule for the next two years.

The full article is HERE

Amazon’s Project Kuiper and OneWeb Raise the Curtain Higher on Their Satellite Plans

BY ALAN BOYLE at GeekWire.com

Filings with the Federal Communications Commission are providing fresh details about the plans being laid by Amazon and OneWeb to set up networks of satellites for global broadband internet access.

OneWeb, for example, is seeking FCC approval for up to 1.5 million ground terminals that customers would use to receive and transmit satellite data.

Amazon, meanwhile, is answering questions from the FCC about how the satellites in its Project Kuiper constellation would be maneuvered and deorbited. The answers make clear that Project Kuiper’s satellite design is still very much in flux.

That’s in contrast to SpaceX, which has already launched 60 of its Starlink satellites and is expected to send another batch into orbit as early as this month.

SpaceX, Amazon and OneWeb are considered the leading at competitors in the nascent market to offer high-speed internet access from low Earth orbit, or LEO, to the billions of people who are currently underserved. Other players in the LEO broadband market include Telesat and LeoSat.

In a recent FCC filing, SpaceX suggested that it could begin providing limited service to parts of the United States by the end of next year.

OneWeb launched the first six satellites of its constellation in February and is expected to launch about 30 more in December. The London-based consortium says it’s planning to offer satellite internet access starting in late 2020 — with the world’s Arctic regions as its initial focus.

OneWeb’s request for authority to operate 1.5 million user terminals in the United States was filed on Sunday. The terminals, which would be equipped with 18-inch-wide antennas, would work with OneWeb’s gateway facilities to process the signals beamed down from its constellation.

It typically takes months for the FCC to gather comment and make its decision about such a request. SpaceX filed a similar application for 1 million user terminals back in February, and that application is still pending.

Amazon isn’t as far along in its plans. It hasn’t said exactly when it intends to start building, launching or operating Project Kuiper’s satellites, and it hasn’t yet settled on a launch provider. But the Seattle-based company is nevertheless making a big commitment to Project Kuiper, which CEO Jeff Bezos called “a very good business for Amazon” during a Las Vegas conference in June. Amazon is listing about 100 job openings for the satellite project, virtually all based in Bellevue, Wash.

One recent FCC filing relating to Project Kuiper is a Sept. 18 letter from C. Andrew Keisner, lead counsel to Amazon’s Kuiper Systems subsidiary. The letter addresses a series of questions from the FCC asking about the project’s status.

Keisner told the FCC that the system’s “constellation design and implementation plan are well-developed, and Amazon continues to mature its satellite design and operational procedures.”

He provided a recap of the specifications for the satellite constellation, which were first laid out in April. The plan calls for putting 3,236 satellites into three sets of orbits, at 590, 610 and 630 kilometers (367, 379 and 391 miles) in altitude.

Keisner said the satellites would be deployed into an initial orbit that’s below the altitude of the International Space Station (roughly 250 miles or 400 kilometers). They’d be given a “comprehensive in-orbit performance verification” at the lower altitude, and only then would be raised to their operational orbits.

Emphasis Added.  Continue reading HERE.

OneWeb Terminal

This may be a OneWeb Terminal Gateway with an 18-inch antenna?  Thoughts?

Tech Titans Start Internet Space Race

Irina Slav writing at Oilprice.com

Last week, when CNN reported SpaceX planned to start beaming Internet from space next year, it drew attention to a fascinating and potentially extremely lucrative topic: space Internet.

The idea of using satellites to beam Internet to large parts of the planet has undoubted benefits. It can bring the Internet to many of the 3 billion people who currently don’t have access to the Web and cannot therefore take advantage of all the opportunities it offers, whether it’s for job searching, education, or something else.

Yet the challenges and drawbacks are significant as well. For starters, it will be expensive, writes Tali Arbel for the AP. One would need tens of thousands of satellites, and although these are smaller and hence cheaper than other satellites, the sheer number pushes the total cost up. So does the need for extensive and complex infrastructure on Earth: dishes and antennas. SpaceX alone has filed a request for one million so-called earth stations” as part of its space-based Internet project. Because of these high costs, it will be quite a while before this project and others like it start making money, if they are completed at all.

“I would be surprised if something were profitable in 10 years,” an aeronautics and astronautics professor from MIT told the AP’s Arbel. Kerri Cahoy added that space-based Internet is also at least three years from widespread commercial use. Yet SpaceX wants to do it next year, and there’s a good reason for that: competition.

This year, Elon Musk’s space company launched the first group of satellites for what it calls Starlink—the constellation of satellites it will use to beam Internet to Earth. Next year, the company is planning on 24 launches for satellites that will become part of Starlink—an unprecedented number of launches as SpaceX rushes to be the first in a new market that could turn it into a $52-billion company, according to Morgan Stanley.

Its competitors here include Amazon, which undoubtedly has the financial means to stake a claim in the future space-based Internet market, as well as OneWeb, a venture financially backed by Virgin’s Richard Branson, along with Qualcomm, and Japan’s SoftBank. And these are just the large players.

For now, SpaceX and OneWeb are the frontrunners in the nascent race. OneWeb also said recently it planned to start beaming Internet signal from space next year. Its target will be Alaska: one of the places where regular Internet connection is difficult to come by, with only 52 percent of Alaskans enjoying broadband access.

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Yet it is far from certain this will happen as planned. The AP’s Arbel notes OneWeb’s original plan had envisaged the launch of its satellite constellation by the end of this year but the company has had to push back the launch date.

Amazon is kind of late to the party. It only recently asked the Federal Communications Commission to conduct tests on a new broadband Internet service and to launch more than 3,000 satellites in orbit. It has the capacity to catch up quickly to its rivals, but ultimate success remains uncertain for all of them.

The satellite constellations will cost billions of dollars to send into orbit. The earth stations will also be expensive: after all, to bring Internet to remote regions you’d need stations in those regions, and in this context, remote means expensive. Finally, your future clients need to be able to afford Internet services, the AP’s Arbel says.

While the main runners in the race have the means to cover the costs of installations and satellite clusters, there is nothing they can do about the wild card: the potential users of their space-based Internet services. True, Jeff Bezos is talking about beaming Internet to the whole world, but only half of this world or even less can actually afford Internet access, and that’s at current prices for the service. Space-based Internet needs to become a lot cheaper to become viable.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

Intelsat Sues OneWeb Broadband Satellite Venture Over a Mega-Deal That Went Sour

OneWeb_Sat
Illustration of OneWeb Satellite from Internet

GeekWire has the details:

One of the world’s biggest satellite operators, Intelsat, is accusing the OneWeb broadband satellite venture and its biggest investor, SoftBank, of breach of contract, fraud and conspiracy in a lawsuit seeking what could amount to tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

In the course of laying out its case, Intelsat told the New York State Supreme Court that it paid Redmond, Wash.-based Kymeta, a venture backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, $10 million for development of a flat-panel antenna for OneWeb’s constellation.

Intelsat’s Sept. 10 filing also said OneWeb has pivoted from its original plan to provide broadband access to underserved regions of the world to concentrate on the very markets that Intelsat was planning to serve under the terms of the deal it struck in 2015 with OneWeb: maritime and aviation mobility services, oil and gas industry services and government services.

Continue reading HERE.

This could slow down the OneWeb service activation. In a press release, OneWeb touted it initial capability to focus on Alaska and Northern Canada end-users and businesses, with service starting by early 2020.  Any slow down could give more advantage to the other potential LEO broadband providers, SpaceX, Amazon, and Telesat.

Iridium and OneWeb to Collaborate on a Global Satellite Services Offering

SpaceDaily has the details:

Iridium Communications and OneWeb have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together toward a combined service offering. This combined service offering would be designed to make it easier for their mutual partners to offer unique bundling and co-marketing opportunities for the Iridium Certus L-band services and OneWeb’s Ku-band service. The offering would leverage the strengths of their respective low-Earth-orbit (LEO) networks. This is the first time that LEO operators have collaborated to deliver services in L-band and Ku-band.

The MoU also creates opportunities for companies that manufacture both OneWeb and Iridium CertusTM terminals. Such new options could include Iridium-OneWeb companion packages in addition to providers being able to offer combined equipment or even new dual-constellation terminals.

While both are LEO constellations, Iridium and OneWeb services have different capabilities on their respective bands (L-band and Ku-band), which can create a complementary, full-service option for applications such as heads of state comms, critical tactical services, maritime, disaster response and more.

“It’s an exciting time for the industry, and we see great potential for this offering,” said Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium. “Our services are unique and complementary, and we know that customers are looking for the capabilities of both our low-Earth-orbiting networks.”

Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb said: “We believe our new offering can bring many benefits for our distribution partners. By combining the strengths of our services, we can ensure our partners are able to deliver the most innovative, seamless services to their subscribers across many markets, and in all the places that don’t yet have access to the internet.”

Due to the physics associated with L-band and Ku-band spectrum, the two come with different yet complementary attributes. The OneWeb network will deliver very high-speed broadband connectivity that transfers large amounts of data. It is ideal for applications including Inflight WiFi, Government, and Maritime networks that require global reach, high speed and low latency.

Continue reading HERE

With the first six satellites already launched, OneWeb’s system has already demonstrated broadband speeds of 400 Mbps and an average latency of 32 milliseconds. OneWeb will begin monthly launches of more than 30 satellites per month starting in December enabling OneWeb to provide partial service in late 2020 and global coverage in 2021.

Emphasis added.  SpaceX and Starlink are promising partial service in 2020 and full service by 2012, the race is on.  Stay tuned!

First Launch of UK’s OneWeb Satellites From Baikonur Planned for Dec 19

OneWeb_Sat
Illustration from SpaceDaily

SpaceDaily has the details:

The first launch of UK communications satellites OneWeb from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome is tentatively scheduled for December 19, a spokesperson for Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos told Sputnik.

“Glavkosmos, Arianespace and Starsem have prepared joint proposals for launching OneWeb spacecraft from the Baikonur spaceport tentatively on December 19,” the spokesperson said.

According to the spokesperson, this date is to be approved after the detailed planning of technological operations, although everything is in the state of high readiness.

In April, OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel told The Australian newspaper that starting in December, OneWeb will be launching 30 satellites per month aboard Soyuz carrier rockets during a period of 20 months.

[. . .]

OneWeb plans to create a constellation of satellites that will provide broadband Internet access to users around the world fully covering the Earth’s surface. In cooperation with Roscosmos, the UK communications company sent up its first satellites in February and has planned its next two launches for the end of this year and the first half of 2020.

The full article is HERE.

 

OneWeb Brings Fiber-Like Internet for the Arctic in 2020

SpaceDaily has the Details:

A global network, OneWeb’s Arctic service will be deployed significantly earlier and provide 200 times more capacity than planned systems. Substantial services will start towards the end of 2020, with full 24-hour coverage being provided by early 2021, supplying unprecedented blanket coverage to every part of the Arctic Circle.
OneWeb, whose goal is to connect everyone everywhere, today announced the details of its Arctic high-speed, low-latency internet service. OneWeb will deliver 375 Gbps of capacity above the 60th parallel North. With service starting in 2020, there will be enough capacity to give fiber-like connectivity to hundreds of thousands of homes, planes, and boats, connecting millions across the Arctic.

The dense, flexible coverage of OneWeb’s polar-orbiting satellites coupled with its high-speed service and low latency capabilities will provide a superior connectivity experience to the 48% of the Arctic currently without broadband coverage. In fact, OneWeb most recently proved its system’s capabilities through HD video streaming tests last month with its first six satellites that showcased extreme low latencies under 40 milliseconds and high speed services.

A global network, OneWeb’s Arctic service will be deployed significantly earlier and provide 200 times more capacity than planned systems. Substantial services will start towards the end of 2020, with full 24-hour coverage being provided by early 2021, supplying unprecedented blanket coverage to every part of the Arctic Circle.

Continue reading HERE.

 

OneWeb Brings Fiber-Like Internet for the Arctic in 2020

Space Daily has the details:

OneWeb, whose goal is to connect everyone everywhere, today announced the details of its Arctic high-speed, low-latency internet service. OneWeb will deliver 375 Gbps of capacity above the 60th parallel North. With service starting in 2020, there will be enough capacity to give fiber-like connectivity to hundreds of thousands of homes, planes, and boats, connecting millions across the Arctic.

The dense, flexible coverage of OneWeb’s polar-orbiting satellites coupled with its high-speed service and low latency capabilities will provide a superior connectivity experience to the 48% of the Arctic currently without broadband coverage. In fact, OneWeb most recently proved its system’s capabilities through HD video streaming tests last month with its first six satellites that showcased extreme low latencies under 40 milliseconds and high speed services.

A global network, OneWeb’s Arctic service will be deployed significantly earlier and provide 200 times more capacity than planned systems. Substantial services will start towards the end of 2020, with full 24-hour coverage being provided by early 2021, supplying unprecedented blanket coverage to every part of the Arctic Circle.

Continue reading HERE.

Good place to start, where there is no competition.