Virgin Galatic and Qualcomm on Thursday confirmed their partnership for OneWeb satellite network venture. The venture will involve construction of over 648 satellites for providing low-latency, high-speed internet to small user terminals worldwide.
OneWeb is a satellite technology startup based in the United Kingdom and is operating under the name WorldVu satellites. The investment from Virgin Galatic and Qualcomm will support the OneWeb satellite network. The network will be able to provide Internet access to more than three billion people in accessible areas that are marked “undeserved” by Internet Service Providers.
This will be grand for all those people who can’t get online today,” said Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galatic.
Branson indicated that more jobs will be made available to develop OneWeb satellites. The founder, along with Qualcomm executive chairman Paul Jacob will work towards attracting investment from other companies. The network will bring in a significant improvement in Internet coverage of rural and remote areas.
According to the press release, OneWeb terminals will act as small cells that will provide surrounding areas with Wi-Fi, LTE, 3G or 2G connections using operator’s licensed spectrum or LTE or Wi-Fi on unlicensed spectrum. The craft has been named LauncherOne and Virgin hopes to launch it by 2016.
LauncherOne craft’s design will allow it to carry 265 pounds to high-altitude Sun-Synchronous orbit or double to low-earth orbit. OneWeb satellites will weigh around 285 pounds, capable of orbiting about 750 miles, according to the Wall Street Journal. Former Google man Greg Wyler stated that the development of LaucherOne will need about $1.5 to $2 billion.
Qualcomm has refrained from making any official announcement to the public or to NASDAQ. The company quoted in OneWeb’s press release that it is pleased to join Virgin as an investor and looked forward in helping fund initial technical fund for the satellite system.[ Source ]