OneWeb completes 'Five to 50' mission
Also in this satellite roundup: Hughes joins Emergency Broadband Benefit program; Eutelsat partners on vaccines; India makes it easier for telcos to use satellite capacity.
- The UK government-backed satellite company OneWeb achieved a milestone last week, confirming the successful launch of 36 low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to bring its total in-orbit constellation to 254 satellites, or 40% of its planned fleet. This launch completes OneWeb's "Five to 50" mission to cover regions "north of 50 degrees latitude," readying the company to deliver service to the United Kingdom, Canada, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland and the Arctic region. In a press release, OneWeb said it will start service demonstrations this summer in Alaska, Canada and elsewhere. Ultimately, OneWeb is planning for a fleet of 648 LEO satellites, with global service to become available in 2022.
- The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is slow going in South Africa, with just 0.8% of the population fully vaccinated. In the province of Mpumalanga, which ranks among the lowest-vaccinated regions in the country, satellite operator Eutelsat is set to help by delivering high-speed Internet access to 13 COVID-19 vaccination centers. The effort, formed in partnership with pharmaceutical company Aspen Pharmacare, "will see Eutelsat's Konnect satellite broadband connecting the Department of Health's (DoH's) electronic vaccination data system (EVDS), which preregisters, admits and discharges vaccination clients at the vaccination centres," according to Engineering News. Only 1.7% of Mpumalanga's rural households have Internet access.
- India's Digital Communications Commission (DCC) has approved Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT) operators to provide satellite-based cellular backhaul connectivity to telcos in the country. As Gagandeep Kaur writes on Light Reading, this means Indian service providers will be able to use satellite capacity from VSAT license holders, whereas before this change only firms with a National Long Distance (NLD) license could offer backhaul connectivity. "This development assumes significance because several global LEO satellite players, including Elon Musk's Starlink, Bharti's OneWeb and Amazon's Project Kuiper, have recently started exploring the Indian market," writes Kaur. Only 50% of India's population is currently served by fixed broadband, making it potentially ripe for LEO satellite services. (See India lets VSAT offer satellite backhaul connectivity to CSPs.)
- Hughes Network Systems announced today that it is joining the FCC's Emergency Broadband Benefit program, allowing for up to $50 discounts on broadband services for eligible households. This makes Hughes, which serves over 1 million rural Americans, the only nationwide satellite provider to participate thus far. To date, over 3.3 million homes have enrolled in the emergency program.
— Nicole Ferraro, contributing editor and host of "The Divide" and "What's the Story?" Light Reading
Here's where you can find episode links for 'The Divide,' Light Reading's podcast series featuring conversations with broadband providers and policymakers working to close the digital divide.
As we have for the past two years, Light Reading will present our Cable Next-Gen Europe conference as a free digital symposium on June 21.
Charter has sparked RDOF work in all 24 states where it won bids. The cable op booked about $19 million in RDOF revenues in Q1, and expects to have about $9 million per month come in over the next ten years.
As we have for the past two years, Light Reading will stage the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies conference as a free digital event over two half-days in mid-March.
Launch of 2-Gig and 5-Gig FTTP tiers in 70-plus markets puts more pressure on cable ops to enhance their existing DOCSIS 3.1 network or accelerate their upgrade activity centered on the new DOCSIS 4.0 specs.