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FCC Grants OneWeb Market Access for 2,000-Satellite Constellation

By Rachel Jewett | August 26, 2020
OneWeb Graphic

An artist’s rendition of the OneWeb constellation. Photo: OneWeb

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted OneWeb‘s market access to expand its Non-Geostationary Orbit (NGSO) satellite constellation to 2,000 satellites with a V-band payload in addition to its Ku- and Ka-band constellation. OneWeb petitioned to add a V-band payload to the 720 satellite Ku- and Ka-band constellation approved by the FCC in 2017, proposing 1,280 additional V-band satellites operating at a nominal altitude of 8,500 km. 

According to the FCC order, OneWeb must launch and operate 50% of the maximum number of proposed space stations, or 1,000 satellites, by Aug. 26, 2026. The remaining satellites must be launched and operated by Aug. 26, 2029. OneWeb currently has 74 satellites in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO). 

“We are pleased to hear the FCC granted our V-Band application. The V-band is critical for next generation satellite broadband services. OneWeb looks forward to the future growth opportunities this approval will enable as we commercialize our spectrum and execute on our mission to bring low latency connectivity to communities, governments, businesses, and people in the U.S. and around the world,” a OneWeb spokesperson said Wednesday.

The OneWeb representative told Via Satellite that this approval is from a 2017 filing and is not related to OneWeb’s request to the FCC in May to increase its constellation to 48,000 satellites.

This is the latest FCC approval for a satellite constellation to provide high-speed broadband internet. In July, Amazon’s Project Kuiper was granted approval to build a constellation of 3,236 satellites. 

“Granting OneWeb access to the U.S. market for its proposed V-band satellite system would increase competition for the broadband services proposed to be provided by such systems to American consumers, particularly in underserved areas, offer a greater likelihood that such a large system is able to fulfill its ambitions and deploy the proposed services, and thereby serve the public interest,” reads the FCC’s order and declaratory ruling released Wednesday. 

The OneWeb constellation will be authorized by the United Kingdom, as the U.K. government is in the process of acquiring the company in a consortium with Bharti Global Limited and Hughes Network Systems

In addition, OneWeb must submit its orbital debris mitigation plans within six months, including its plans submitted in the U.K. and the criteria used in the U.K.