OneWeb satellite artist impression

OneWeb’s broadband satellites could be used to plug rural black hole

Image credit: OneWeb

OneWeb is reportedly in talks with BT to use its satellite broadband technology to provide coverage to rural areas of the UK.

The firm, which was bought by the UK government after nearly going bankrupt last year, intends to launch a network of more than 650 low Earth orbit satellites that will be able to beam down internet services.

By March 2020 it had launched 74 satellites followed by an additional 36 in December after being bought out.

The company has received future approval for a total of 2,000 satellites, 1,280 of which will sit in a higher medium Earth orbit of 8,500km.

The government hopes OneWeb will be able to provide modest speeds in rural Britain at a cheaper cost per household than the installation of extra cables in uneconomical places.

Under the government’s Universal Service Obligation (USO), everyone in the UK is guaranteed at least a 10Mbps broadband connection.

In theory, OneWeb’s network should be able to deliver ultrafast broadband speeds over 100Mbps and latency times of under 40ms, therefore fulfilling USO requirements.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pledged to roll out universal full-fibre broadband by 2025 as part of the Tory manifesto for the 2019 election. But a group of MPs have warned that the plan does not “grasp the extent” of the digital divide between urban and rural areas.

Speaking to the Telegraph, a OneWeb spokesman confirmed they were in talks with BT on a potential deal. They added: “We're looking at being able to support telecom companies around the world.”

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