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Intelsat-OneWeb Merger: Enhanced Connections for Government Users
by Staff Writers
McLean VA (SPX) Apr 06, 2017

File image.

At the recent Satellite 2017 conference in Washington, DC, we heard a number of predictions - some of them perhaps literally "pie in the sky" - of how the half-dozen or so proposed low-earth orbit (LEO) constellations are going to change global communications.

But the most important project, and the one most experts consider the most viable, is that proposed by OneWeb. And from our perspective, because Intelsat and OneWeb have announced plans to merge, we believe this LEO constellation will greatly benefit IGC's customers.

OneWeb plans to launch 684 satellites that will circle the earth at an altitude of about 750 miles (1,200 km) to provide broadband service to users anywhere on the globe. OneWeb terminals and satellites will use the Ku-band frequency spectrum and will complement Intelsat's global fleet of geo-synchronous orbit (GEO) satellites.

Because the OneWeb satellites are in LEO orbit, far closer to earth than GEO spacecraft, users will be able to connect using very small terminals that are now in development. For our government customers, the combined Intelsat-OneWeb network will provide a wide range of new communications capabilities.

For example, the Army has announced plans to use technology to establish expeditionary command posts using Wi-Fi hotspots to communicate with soldiers and vehicles. With reach-back via the Intelsat-OneWeb network, these Army hotspots would have a global, quick deploy solution.

In any terrain, in any location, commanders and soldiers could establish Wi-Fi networks with Internet access. These networks could be scaled to suit the size of the tactical operation in the field.

Another possible application is OneWeb support to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations over the Arctic, an area recently opened to maritime lanes but beyond the reach of GEO satellites.

The Group III UAS, such as Insitu's ScanEagle, have flown in higher latitudes but have been limited to line-of-sight only. Group 4 and 5 UAS (Predator and Global Hawk) have also been limited by the look angle to GEO satellites in these higher latitudes.

OneWeb, with orbits crossing the polar caps, will be virtually overhead of these UAS, and the satellites' high throughput will support military operations, rescue assistance and general surveillance.

Humanitarian efforts in remote areas could also be enhanced by OneWeb's capabilities, either through the use of hotspots that broadcast Wi-Fi signals or through direct connections to the satellites themselves with small user terminals. Such networks could provide non-government organizations operating in austere environments the broadband connectivity they need to do their jobs.

First responders could also benefit from OneWeb connectivity. In the United States alone, there are an estimated 10,000 separate and incompatible land-mobile radio networks serving police, fire and other emergency responders. Congress has appropriated money to establish a nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety.

The network is years from completion and can only be used by devices with special chipsets in them. OneWeb offers an affordable alternative that would allow first responders to leverage existing devices and investments.

The operation of the OneWeb network is a couple of years away, but we are already planning how it will deliver needed communications to a range of government and civil agencies around the world.

OneWeb Satellites breaks ground on high-volume satellite manufacturing facility
Exploration Park FL (SPX) Mar 21, 2017
OneWeb Satellites LLC has broken ground to mark the beginning of construction on its estimated $85 million high-volume satellite manufacturing factory in Exploration Park, Florida. During a ceremony with Florida Governor Rick Scott, OneWeb Satellites CEO Brian Holz and Airbus Defense and Space Inc., President Mike Cosentino, it will be announced that the factory near NASA's Kennedy Space Center ... read more

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