OneWeb, U.S. senator, urge FCC to act on 2018 request for 1,260 more satellites

WASHINGTON — As OneWeb prepares to start month-to-month launches for its broadband constellation subsequent month, the corporate and a U.S. senator are pushing the FCC to behave on an utility filed almost two years in the past for 1,260 extra satellites.

OneWeb and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) contacted the U.S. Federal Communications Fee in regards to the utility, which if permitted would permit OneWeb to supply web entry in america with a complete of 1,980 satellites. The corporate is presently approved for service with 720 satellites, of which six are in orbit and the subsequent 34 launch Feb. 7. 

OneWeb, in a letter filed with the FCC Jan. 24 and posted on the fee’s web site Jan. 27, mentioned it is going to quickly want to rearrange extra launches in order that it might probably proceed increasing its constellation after 2021. The corporate has secured rides to orbit for roughly 720 satellites already with Arianespace on 20 Soyuz rockets and the inaugural flight of the Ariane 6 late this yr. 

OneWeb, which is headquartered in the UK, doesn’t want FCC approval to launch satellites, however views the U.S. market as vital sufficient to affect its constellation plans. One of many firm’s first prospects is Alaska-based Pacific Dataport, which hopes to start out providing OneWeb satellite tv for pc web within the fourth quarter of this yr. Pacific Dataport can be the anchor buyer for the primary of a brand new class of small geostationary satellites being constructed by Astranis, a satellite tv for pc manufacturing startup.

Eric Graham, OneWeb’s head of regulatory affairs for North America, met with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly and different FCC workers Jan. 22 and 23 to debate the licensing concern, in response to OneWeb’s letter. 

Kaine despatched a letter to the FCC on Dec. 4 inquiring in regards to the OneWeb utility. 

“It’s my understanding that [OneWeb’s] modification utility has been pending on the Fee for greater than 18 months,” Kaine wrote. “Accordingly, please give full and honest consideration to OneWeb’s undertaking, which may benefit Individuals throughout the nation.”

OneWeb’s U.S. headquarters is positioned in McLean, Virginia.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai responded to Kaine Jan. 14, saying the FCC “continues to work on OneWeb’s modification request,” and is “contemplating how the rise within the variety of satellites might affect the licensees of the primary processing spherical.”

“Please be assured that every one purposes can be given full and honest consideration all through this course of,” Pai wrote. 

Pai mentioned the FCC permitted two gateway floor stations for OneWeb in 2019, and is reviewing three extra. 

OneWeb first utilized for Ku- and Ka-band satellite tv for pc frequencies with the FCC in April 2016, triggering a wave of 11 extra purposes that included SpaceX, SES and Kepler Communications. 

OneWeb mentioned it discovered the size of the FCC’s evaluate for its modification request “stunning,” since different modifications have been accepted. The FCC in 2018 permitted extra satellites for SpaceX and Telesat Canada, and has permitted two modifications to SpaceX’s constellation. 

OneWeb mentioned it sought to change its utility in March 2018 after the FCC relaxed its deadlines for satellite tv for pc operators to maintain their market entry rights. 

The FCC determined in 2017 that operators have to launch solely 50% of their constellations in six years to maintain their market entry, with their constellations accomplished in 9 years of FCC approval. The fee’s prior guidelines stipulated having a full constellation in orbit in six years. 

After the principles modified, OneWeb sought to match its FCC market entry with the complete variety of satellites in its submitting with the Worldwide Telecommunication Union. 

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