There is a race going on right now to cover the globe with high-speed Internet access. One of many horses in that race is OneWeb. Their first satellites are already in low Earth orbit, and initial testing appears very promising.
Ars Technica reviews that OneWeb’s initial trials hit a top speed of 400Mbps. Standard latency hovered around 32ms, and the streaming 1080p video was no problem in any respect.
This round of testing concerned half dozen satellites which have been orbiting at the height of 1200km since earlier this year. By the time OneWeb goes live next year, the corporate plans to have 650. When the ‘web’ is complete, that number will grow to 1,980.
The project is a little behind schedule. OneWeb first acquired FCC approval two summers ago and had hoped to launch its first satellites in 2018 and begin offering service in Alaska this year. Now the corporate expects to start providing consumer demos next year before totally switching on the service in 2021.
The heat is on now, as Elon Musk’s SpaceX is on the point of launch its competing Starlink service. SpaceX recently acquired approval for its revised plan to launch 1,500 satellites. Starlink’s satellites will float even lower — around 342 miles — which might push latency all the way down to 15ms.
As a network administrator who takes care of several very remote places, I’m pretty excited by these early exams. A few of my sites can’t push much more than 10Mbps with present satellite suppliers. OneWeb also appears as it could easily beat the LTE-based terrestrial wireless connections that service a few of my other users.
These next-gen satellite providers will convey actual high-speed Internet access to remote areas — not only within the U.S., however all around the world. Now, all we need to know is how a lot of suppliers are going to charge for that access.