Iridium and OneWeb sign MoU to bring L-band and Ku-band together

The deal was announced at the Iridium partner conference in San Diego. PHOTO: Iridium

Low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellite operators Iridium and OneWeb have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together toward a combined service offering, which would deliver bundled packages combining L-band connectivity on Iridium Certus with Ku-band services on the OneWeb network.

The higher Ku-band frequency used by OneWeb allows for greater bandwidth speeds to be achieved on satellite links than is possible with the L-band frequency used by Iridium, however L-band is much more resilient for use in inclement weather conditions and as such is well suited to at-sea communication (hence its use for the provision of GMDSS safety services).

Iridium’s Certus architecture of crosslinked satellites also differs from OneWeb’s approach, which requires each satellite in the network to connect to a ground-based gateway to complete a connection.

As such, the two satellite operators see their services as complementary rather than competitive, creating opportunities for a joint approach to the market. This joint approach will also extend to the equipment supply side, where the companies see potential for antenna manufacturers to offer combined equipment or even new dual-constellation terminals.

“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 added: “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.”

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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