OneWeb launches more LEO satellites; will they stay in space longer than Richard Branson?
Despite a difficult year, low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite operator OneWeb is still making progress. The company signed a partnership with UK carrier BT and launched 36 additional satellites, bringing the total up to 254, or 40% of OneWeb’s target of 648 satellites in orbit. Consumers in the North of England will be able to access OneWeb’s satellite bandwidth at the end of 2021.
Low Earth orbit satellites hold out the promise of high capacity connectivity anywhere and could play a central role in the growth of edge computing and IoT connectivity services as they are cheaper to launch and operate than geostationary satellites. But early market leader OneWeb struggled and went into bankruptcy in 2020, only emerging after an eyebrow-raising $500mn investment from the UK government and Bharti Global. Since then a revived OneWeb seems to have emerged by quietly continuing to make progress with its rollout, and building relationships with carriers like BT.