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OneWeb to Collaborate on PNT Capabilities With the UK National Physical Laboratory 

By Rachel Jewett | September 26, 2023
      OneWeb constellation visualization. Photo: OneWeb

      OneWeb constellation visualization. Photo: OneWeb

      The United Kingdom’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) announced Monday that it has signed an MoU with OneWeb to work together on Position, Timing and Navigation (PNT) capabilities in the company’s second-generation satellite constellation. NPL is the national measurement standards laboratory of the United Kingdom. It sets and maintains physical standards for British industry.

      The announcement was light on details, but they have agreed to collaborate on OneWeb Gen 2 PNT system time scale design and NPL certification of OneWeb’s Gen 1 Timing service. 

      PNT capabilities have been in the mix as a possibility for OneWeb’s second generation constellation. The first generation does not offer PNT services, only satellite communications. 

      PNT services entered the conversation after the U.K. acquired a share of OneWeb post-bankruptcy. The U.K. is excluded from full access to Europe’s Galileo global navigation satellite system (GNSS) satellite constellation because of Brexit. The U.K. does not have access to an encrypted secure component available only to the military, emergency services, and government agencies. 

      The MoU also says OneWeb and NTC will look at opportunities for OneWeb to access a service node from NPL’s National Timing Centre program (NTC). The program is looking to develop the U.K.’s first nationally distributed time infrastructure which would help the country move away from reliance on GNSS. 

      “OneWeb sets out to remove the barriers to connectivity that are holding economies and communities back. As the home of UK time and the National Timing Authority, NPL is ideally placed to support them in this endeavor and collaborate to overcome national needs,” NPL said in a statement.