OneWeb’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite network has added another 36 satellites, taking its in-orbit constellation to 254 satellites, or 40% of the total global planned fleet of 648.
The addition of these latest satellites, launched on 1 July, will allow the company to deliver connectivity across the United Kingdom, Canada, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, and the Arctic Region, including services to fully fixed energy rigs operating onshore and offshore at 50 degrees North and above.
Longer term, OneWeb says that it will be able to serve commercial fishing and merchant shipping operations in the Arctic with its current network before moving ahead to global service availability in 2022.
Service demonstrations will begin this summer in locations including Alaska and Canada as the firm prepares for the introduction of actual commercial services in the next six months.
The launch was completed just days after major shareholder Bharti announced an investment of an additional $500 million in the company to become the single largest shareholder following its emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020.
“(This) momentous milestone demonstrates that OneWeb is now a leader in LEO broadband connectivity, serving a wide range of stakeholders across the Northern Hemisphere. This fifth launch amid the unprecedented global pandemic is truly remarkable and I congratulate the management team and fellow shareholders on the success,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises, and Executive Chairman of OneWeb.
“Bharti’s doubling of its investment earlier this week is testament to the commitment to OneWeb’s mission. We now look forward to the next chapter in OneWeb’s story, preparing the company for commercial service in less than six months to deliver our global connectivity solutions to communities around the world.”