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OneWeb to launch a new satellite constellation to bring high-speed Internet to underserved areas globally

Qualcomm and Virgin Group backed OneWeb Ltd. recently
announced its plans to build, launch and operate a low-earth-orbit satellite
constellation to help bring high-speed Internet and telephony to billions of
people around the world.

Qualcomm and Virgin Group backed OneWeb Ltd. recently
announced its plans to build, launch and operate a low-earth-orbit satellite
constellation to help bring high-speed Internet and telephony to billions of
people around the world.

Qualcomm Incorporated
and The Virgin Group have been announced as initial investors, with Qualcomm
Executive Chairman Dr. Paul Jacobs and Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson
to join OneWeb founder Greg Wyler on the company’s board of directors.
Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. OneWeb plans to bring in
additional investors to fund construction, launch and operation of its system.

“We are pleased to join Virgin as an initial investor, and
we look forward to helping fund initial technical feasibility work for the
satellite system.”

According to the International Telecommunications Union, as
of the end of 2014, more than half the world’s population lacks Internet
access. OneWeb, founded in 2012 under the name WorldVu, hopes to bring
high-speed Internet and telephony to people living in underserved areas. The
OneWeb satellite system introduces the first-ever telecom-class micro
satellites. This projected fleet of 648 micro satellites is intended to provide
low-latency, high-speed Internet access directly to small user terminals
deployed around the world.

The OneWeb system will extend the networks of mobile
operators globally, enabling them to provide coverage to rural and remote
areas, which historically have not been economically feasible to connect using
terrestrial networks. OneWeb plans to work with local operator partners to
provide this access. OneWeb terminals act as small cells with the ability to
provide access to the surrounding area via a WiFi, LTE, 3G or 2G connection
using an operator partner’s licensed spectrum, or only LTE or WiFi on
unlicensed spectrum.

OneWeb aims to provide users terminals that are
self-installable, enabling coverage in these areas for any nearby phone,
computer or tablet. OneWeb’s network would also be able to provide global
emergency and first responder access for disaster situations, refugee camps or
other areas in need.

OneWeb also announced the selection of its first satellite
launch vehicle provider, Virgin Galactic and Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne
vehicle.

“OneWeb is designing a global communications infrastructure
that will enable affordable Internet access to the world’s underserved
populations,” said OneWeb
Founder and CEO Greg Wyler. “With the spectrum and
technology, coupled with strong partners, we look forward to advancing global
connectivity.”

Previously, Wyler had joined Google in 2013, as part of a $1
billion-plus Google effort to offer Internet access to unwired parts of the
globe.  Then in September 2014, it was
reported that Wyler left the company and took with him the rights to certain
radio spectrum that could be used to provide Internet access, to become a part
of WorldVu Satellites Ltd, according to the Wall
Street Journal
. WorldVu is now operating under the name OneWeb
Ltd. 

“We are excited by OneWeb’s bold vision to launch this major
satellite constellation and be one of its key early investors,” said Virgin
Group founder Richard Branson. “Imagine the possibilities for the three billion
people in hard to reach areas who are currently not connected. We’re excited
for the opportunity for Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne programme to help make it
possible through low cost, reliable and frequent satellite launches. Improving
access to education, health care, financial systems, and employment will take a
revolution, one that we are tremendously proud to be part of.”

“We have a shared vision to bring connectivity to
underserved areas around the world,” said Qualcomm Executive Chairman Paul
Jacobs
. “We are pleased to join Virgin as an initial investor, and we look
forward to helping fund initial technical feasibility work for the satellite
system.”

Image Source: WSJ

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