OneWeb CEO: Here’s why our product is different than Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink

Space-based broadband supplier OneWeb launched one other 36 satellites efficiently on Thursday, transferring the corporate nearer to starting preliminary service from its rising community in orbit.

Comparisons abound between the growing techniques of OneWeb and SpaceX’s Starlink, as each are constructing constellations with quite a few satellites in low Earth orbit that present web service to wherever on Earth from area.

But OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson, who joined the corporate in November after its emergence from final yr’s chapter, doesn’t see Elon Musk’s area enterprise as a direct competitor regardless of the comparisons.

Putting it merely, Masterson mentioned that OneWeb’s “approach to the market is just very different” versus Starlink, with the previous targeted on enterprise clients and the latter going direct to shoppers’ households.

“There are some areas where we will compete, I suspect, particularly around serving governments, but governments will always buy more than one service,” Masterson advised CNBC. “I think there’ll be multiple players who will be able to be able to be successful in addressing their market.”

The satellite-based subject of information communications continues to broaden even past Starlink.

OneWeb faces competitors from fellow enterprise-focused satellite tv for pc service Telesat, in addition to from Lockheed Martin’s latest partnership with space-based 5G startup Omnispace and the plans of satellite-to-smartphone specialist AST & Science.

While Masterson acknowledge that he pays shut consideration to each doubtless and potential opponents — “you’ve got to be paranoid” — his focus stays on getting OneWeb to market and executing its rollout plan. OneWeb’s satellite tv for pc community is a business-to-business mannequin, planning to ship service by means of present telecommunications corporations, web service suppliers, and different distributors.

OneWeb’s “proposition is very simple,” Masterson mentioned: “We provide fiber where there is no fiber,” whether or not that is mobile backhaul, performing as an emergency backup, or constructing WiFi networks for distant factories and manufacturing.

“One of the reasons we’re going down that sort of B2B route is because we think that those players already working in those markets and communities … understand the price points of the end consumers really well,” Masterson mentioned. “Those price points [can be] very different in different parts of the world.”

The U.Okay. is engaged on a brand new $6.9 billion web infrastructure program known as ‘Project Gigabit,” with government leaders meeting with SpaceX among a number of technology companies.

While Masterson declined to comment specifically on whether OneWeb was also speaking with Project Gigabit leadership, he did say that the company “has been talking to varied components of the federal government” and other organizations in the U.K. market.

Notably, the U.K. government is part of OneWeb’s ownership, having joined Indian telecommunications conglomerate Bharti Global in investing $1 billion to finance OneWeb’s return from bankruptcy. OneWeb raised another $400 million in January from Hughes Network Systems and SoftBank Group, with the latter a return investor — as SoftBank had invested $2 billion into OneWeb earlier than its chapter.

“This is a extremely regulated enterprise and it requires market entry in different components of the world and good relationships with regulators,” Masterson said. “Having a flag behind us is actually useful, and Bharti brings unbelievable telco-know-how, execution functionality and scale.”

A stack of 36 OneWeb satellites being prepared ahead of its launch on March 25, 2020.


OneWeb now has 148 satellites in orbit, with the network planned to have 648 satellites to provide global service. OneWeb expects to be able to begin offering regional service by the end of the year to northern reaches of the world — above 50 degrees latitude, with targeted regions including the U.K., Europe, Greenland, Canada and Alaska — after three more launches.

Masterson said OneWeb plans to open a demonstration site in the U.K. in April, to begin showing its telecommunications customers tests of OneWeb’s capabilities. The next phase of OneWeb’s growth will look to the area effectively between South Africa and the Earth’s South Pole, with plans for service in places such as Australia.

“I’ve been nostril to the grindstone [since arrive in November], ensuring we had been setting our priorities and we’re transferring ahead,” Masterson said. “But I might say that, with out exception, the conversations and interactions I’ve had with clients have been very optimistic. There’s little doubt to me that demand’s there.”

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