OneWeb and SES both improve their coverage

OneWeb's connectivity services are now available throughout Europe and across much of the US, the satellite provider announced this week.

Mary Lennighan

June 29, 2023

4 Min Read
OneWeb Satellite

OneWeb’s connectivity services are now available throughout Europe and across much of the US, the satellite provider announced this week.

Meanwhile, still with satellites, albeit in higher orbit, SES is trumpeting the successful launch of its SES-19 satellite and the start of services on SES-18, which amongst other things means the company is on track to meet its requirements for clearing C-band spectrum in the US.

But first to OneWeb. The part UK government-owned low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite operator explained that it is now providing connectivity in regions above 35 degrees north, which means it can now reach a whole host of new countries. 37 of them, to be exact.

The company explained that this network expansion was actually completed at the end of May, adding countries such as Austria, Italy, France and Portugal to its coverage area, as well as the west coast of the US from Washington to California; the northeast coast from Maine to Virginia; and the Midwest. It also expands coverage in Canada and maritime regions.

Previously, OneWeb was operating at 50 degrees north, which means it covered the Arctic, Alaska, Canada, the UK and elsewhere.

With the network expansion, OneWeb’s operating model remains the same: it acts as a wholesaler with distribution partners offering community broadband solutions, mobile backhaul, business services and so forth. Telcos and ISPs can integrate the OneWeb service into a broader suite of connectivity services.

“This expansion is a significant step in our journey to delivering global commercial service for our customers,” said Stephen Beynon, chief customer officer at OneWeb. The company reminded us that it completed the launch of its global constellation earlier this year and is working towards offering fully global service by the end-2023.

“We are seeing increased demand for our service as we have expanded coverage and grown our portfolio of user terminals for different markets,” Beynon said. “Our technical experience in all corners of the globe, as well as the strong relationships we have with existing partners in Alaska, Canada and Europe, means OneWeb is well placed to support customers in these new regions as well as welcoming new partners to activate services for the first time. As our network coverage continues to grow, I am incredibly excited to serve more maritime, government, enterprise and aviation customers than ever before.”

Much has been made of the rivalry between OneWeb and fellow LEO provider Starlink, operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, particularly given that the two companies were until fairly recently making a lot of noise about their plans to cover the Arctic. However, there are lots of companies looking to get into the LEO market, including legacy satellite players like SES.

SES operates mid-earth orbit (MEO) and geostationary (GEO) satellites, but it still has an eye on LEO; it is one of the players bidding to run the EU’s IRIS² project, for example. However, this week the firm’s focus is directed elsewhere.

SES is one of a number of satellite operators in the process of freeing up C-band spectrum for use by the US mobile industry. It has just announced that its SES-18 satellite has started delivering services 103 degrees West, replacing SES-3’s C-band payload, and is therefore continuing to supply C-band broadcast and radio services, as well other network communications services, in the US.

Meanwhile, SES-19, which was launched in tandem with SES-18, has arrived at its orbital slot at 135 degrees West, where it is co-located with SES-22, the company said.

As such, it has ticked off the successful in-orbit deployment of five of the six new satellites required under the FCC’s clearing programme, the sixth – SES-23 – being on the ground as a spare to provide redundancy.

“We are excited to see our final two new C-band satellites in their orbital positions, and for SES-18 to provide continuity of service for our customers in the United States,” said Steve Collar, CEO of SES. “Thanks to our partners who have been an integral part of our C-band transition program, we look forward to completing the program ahead of the FCC’s accelerated relocation deadline.”

The US regulator requires satellite firms to clear the lower 300 MHz of C-band spectrum throughout the contiguous US by the end of the year. The process is naturally garnering a lot of attention in the industry due to the huge sums of money pledged by mobile operators to gain access to C-band spectrum for their 5G services.

SES being ahead of schedule is doubtless music to their ears.


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About the Author(s)

Mary Lennighan

Mary has been following developments in the telecoms industry for more than 20 years. She is currently a freelance journalist, having stepped down as editor of Total Telecom in late 2017; her career history also includes three years at CIT Publications (now part of Telegeography) and a stint at Reuters. Mary's key area of focus is on the business of telecoms, looking at operator strategy and financial performance, as well as regulatory developments, spectrum allocation and the like. She holds a Bachelor's degree in modern languages and an MA in Italian language and literature.

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