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OneWeb Sign First Aviation Deal for Satellite Broadband on Planes

Monday, May 23rd, 2022 (3:38 pm) - Score 1,224
OneWeb Broadband Satellite Manufacturing

Satellite broadband firm OneWeb, which is British-registered and partly owned by the UK Government, has today signed its first long-term distribution partnership agreement for the business aviation market with Gogo Business Aviation. Gogo’s service is widely used by a number of airlines for in-flight Wi-Fi, such as British Airways.

OneWeb has already launched a total of 428 small c.150kg Low Earth Orbit (LEO) ultrafast (100Mbps+) and low-latency (sub-100ms) broadband satellites into space – orbiting at an altitude of around 1,200km – and their initial plan is to build a constellation of 648 (588 are needed for coverage – the rest are for redundancy), which is enough for a reasonable level of global coverage. Sadly, this has faced delays due to Russia’s war with Ukraine, but they expect to resume launches later this year (here).

OneWeb have long hoped to leverage their performance advantages over traditional GEO/GSO satellites by taking a slice of the aviation market, which is why the deal with Gogo is so important. Gogo Business Aviation has more than 4,500 narrowband satcom systems installed and flying worldwide, and is a factory option at every major business aircraft manufacturer. We recently tested Gogo’s service out while flying on BA (here).

The satellite operator is now aiming to launch their first aviation services for business aviation in 2024.

Jim MacDougall, VP of Product Management for Gogo, said:

“For more than 30 years, Gogo Business Aviation has been a driving force behind the technological innovations that have connected the skies. This agreement with OneWeb enables Gogo to continue to disrupt and innovate to bring our customers superior connectivity solutions while expanding our service to a global audience.”

At this point it’s worth remembering that OneWeb’s arch rival in the LEO space (no pun intended) – Starlink (SpaceX) – are already in the process of signing similar deals with a number of airlines. Starlink also have an advantage in terms of their scale and maturity of deployment.

However, such services are often only introduced to existing aircraft during major refit programmes, which are usually preceded by lots of product testing. Put another way, it’ll probably be a fair while before OneWeb’s service starts to be deployed at scale in the aviation market. But we look forward to the day when OneWeb and Starlink help to make in-flight WiFi a less restrictive experience.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Arch this arch that says:

    Another ‘arch rival’ or should that be archrival article. Either spelling, it’s over-egging.

    1. Matt says:

      I don’t know why people are getting so salty over it. I’m hoping Mark keeps dropping it in now just because it seems to be getting under your skin.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      You’re both arch rivals. Gosh.. did it again 🙂 .

  2. JustAnotherAvGeek says:

    Don’t overlook the fact that partnering with GoGo allows them to use existing aircraft install base over OneWeb’s network. Starlink’s walled garden still needs to get type certification on every single airplane on which they intend to offer service. No small task. This is a big deal for both GoGo and OneWeb and puts them in position to be the first real LEO for commercial aircraft.

    1. NeilM says:

      Doesn’t the fact that the one web is new, mean that it will also need recertifying as well.

      Not too hot on this kind of subject.

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