14 of the 100 antennas here on the mountain plateau above Longyearbyen at Svalbard are aimed at receiving signals from OneWeb's satellites. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

New batch of satellites brings broadband to the Arctic

36 satellites by British communication company OneWeb were successfully placed in orbit late Sunday evening by a Soyuz rocket from Russia's Vostochny cosmodrome.
April 26, 2021

“We get ever closer to bringing our connectivity services to some of the world’s hardest to reach places,” said Neil Masterson, CEO with OneWeb.

The 36 satellites are part of a planned fleet of 648 Low Earth Orbit communication satellites required to cover the globe. More interesting for people, shipping and businesses up north is the soon operational network covering all regions north of 50 degrees latitude. Those satellites will be up by the end of June and services will be online from the end of this year.

“With this third successful launch in our ´Five to 50´program, we are rapidly building momentum,” Masterson said in the company’s press statement.

The program will enable OneWeb to offer from space broadband services to Alaska, Canada, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland and the Arctic Sea.

Internet speed via Iridium satellite links have so far been limited the further north you travel. With increased shipping, and more technology based industries, demand for commercial satellite-based high-speed communication in the Arctic is big.

In the start, OneWeb will offer coverage to fixed receivers in the Arctic, but from next year, mobile services will be available for use onboard ships sailing at high latitudes.

The author while transmitting data via slow-speed satellite connection for the Barents Observer from the deck of an expedition vessel in the Kara Sea some years ago. Photo: Rune Sunnset Alexandersen

 

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