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OneWeb Spotted Testing Personal LEO Satellite Broadband Dish UPDATE

Tuesday, Sep 5th, 2023 (2:25 pm) - Score 2,280
OneWeb-Personal-Inster-Terminal

Space broadband provider OneWeb, which is part-owned by the UK government and typically offers its services to organisations rather than individuals (e.g. ISPs, businesses, governments, shipping etc.), has begun testing a new foldable, person portable User Terminal (UT) in London today.

Just to recap. OneWeb has already launched 634 of their small (c.150kg) first generation (GEN1) broadband satellites into space – orbiting at an altitude of 1,200km above the Earth (588 of them for coverage and the rest are for redundancy). The network, which was technically completed in March 2023 (here), promises ultrafast speeds and fast latency times. But some work (e.g. ground stations) still needs to be completed before full global coverage goes live around the end of 2023.

NOTE: UK ISP BT are currently working with OneWeb on a rural broadband trial (here and here).

However, unlike SpaceX’s rival Starlink platform, the new network does not currently sell broadband services directly to end-users and so the terminal hardware it typically adopts is normally much larger and likely more expensive too. But in an interesting development, OneWeb has just begun showing a new foldable, person portable User Terminal (UT) from Inster in London today (pictured – top).

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Today in London, we are showcasing our brand-new UT, with OneWebbers connecting to the OneWeb network from their own devices,” said the company in a brief statement. The details are currently very limited, and so we don’t know if this could mark the first step toward a direct consumer package. But we suspect it will probably act more as a specialist connectivity option for military or other users when out in the field.

The kit certainly looks quite rugged and reminds yours truly of his Meccano set from decades past. Hopefully more details will be revealed in the near future.

UPDATE 11th Sept 2023

OneWeb has confirmed that their new fully person-portable lightweight user terminal (UT), which is intended to fit easily into a backpack, has been designed to enable new connectivity capabilities for military operations and emergency response teams working in areas beyond the bounds of traditional terrestrial networks and direct to the tactical edge.

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The FoldSat LEo Ku OW Mil terminal is OneWeb’s first fully ruggedized user terminal. The small terminal is self-aligning and easy to deploy and optimised for operation over the OneWeb Ku-Band LEO satellite constellation for communications on the pause. Manufactured by Inster (Oesia Group), it weighs just 11.8kg and has a low profile and foldable antenna design. The Wi-Fi 6 access point can provide connectivity up to 100 metres.

Air Vice-Marshal (Retired) Chris Moore, VP Defence and Security at OneWeb, said:

“Maritime, air or land forces operating at the tactical edge require high quality connectivity in all environmental conditions.

In highly dynamic situations, the ability to access information wherever and whenever it’s needed provides competitive advantage coupled with person-portability – when wheels, tracks and rotor blades are not an option, making this terminal a real game changer. The pizza box sized FoldSat LEo user terminal, is lightweight, quick and efficient to deploy, yet still provides high speed, resilient connectivity, an ideal portable solution for those in the most testing of locations.”

The new terminal can also operate via a multi-option external power source; mains, battery, solar or vehicle battery, while still delivering high-speeds. With a throughput of up to 195Mbps download and 32Mbps upload speeds, it features external GNSS input for GPS denied environments.

The FoldSat Leo is available in two models – military grade in Tactical Green colour and commercial grade in White – the new terminal measures 452L x 374W x 114H mm in folded portable form, and 855L x 374W x 57H mm unfolded when operational. The terminal also comes with a military grade AC/DC unit, tripod and a set of optional extras (transit case, batteries, bespoke backpack). It is designed in compliance with MIL-STD 810H and MIL-STD 461G standards.

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Mark-Jackson
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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
8 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Anon says:

    Didn’t oneweb get bought out by Eutelsat? so is it still “part owned by the UK government” ?

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      An agreement was signed, but it has not yet been fully approved. The UK government will want to ensure that its interests in the project aren’t lost in the process of doing a deal. But we do expect to see some sort of finalisation within the next few weeks/months.

    2. Avatar photo lmao says:

      member when the lefties were foaming at the mouth screaming wrong kind of satellites, tory mess, white elephants. Eutelsat, a European operator buys it .. silence. LOL.

    3. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      the “lefties” were wondering why the government was buying a failing LEO satellite internet company on the justification that they could try to bolt navigation gear onto it, following the loss of access to encrypted Galileo (as I understand it the UK pushed to block non-EU countries when we were a member, and now we’re on the other side of that).

      so far the government has yet to show this new “BritGPS”.

      the various outside investors are interested in the LEO satellite internet part. OneWeb will be considered even more important due to EM’s recent behaviours.

    4. Avatar photo V4TN1K says:

      Ivan, the UK gov never said it would turn OneWeb into a GPS constellation. It said it was possible and could be done. Then one (yes, one) academic who is a self-proclaimed tory hater said hurr durrr wrong kind of satellites and then all his mouthpieces on here jumped on the bandwagon repeating the claim (without of course checking the facts). Standford University published a paper on how chip scale atomic clocks could be used on the same satellites that both oneweb and starlink use today (and also discussed potential future ones like Samsung) and how that could give a level of accuracy the same as GPS or even slightly better. But of course, the lefties never came back to say they were wrong. And indeed it seems you keep repeating their out of date claims made by one academic who got it entirely wrong. But hey, it’s ok to lie as long as it’s against the tories am i right?

    5. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      no one mentioned anything about the tories or this supposed academic. it was mentioned that the government had no real idea what it was doing with the purchase, and it seems to have lucked out by finding buyers for the UK’s stake, minus a “golden share”

      it is telling that the OneWeb purchase needed a “ministerial direction”, ie the civil service explains that it’s a terrible idea in what amounts to a CYA letter and the politician says “don’t care do it anyway”

  2. Avatar photo BTMan says:

    Looks like a SL rip off in a way

    1. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      looks more robust than starlink, at first glance

      I hope OW haven’t used lots of proprietary connections and cables like SL did too.

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