Low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications company OneWeb has confirmed the successful deployment and contact of 36 satellites launched by NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-SHAR) in Sriharikota, India, on Sunday 26 March.
This is OneWeb’s 18th launch, its third this year, bringing its constellation to 618 satellites. The OneWeb constellation design calls for 588 satellites for global coverage; additional satellites are planned for resiliency and redundancy.
Thus, the plan is that by the end of this year OneWeb will be ready to roll out global coverage, enhancing its existing connectivity solutions that are already live in regions north of 50 degrees latitude as it brings new areas online by partnering with leading providers.
This mission marks OneWeb’s second satellite deployment from India, which, says the company, highlights its commitment to provide connectivity across the length and breadth of the country. Once activated, OneWeb says its coverage solutions will bring secured connectivity to Indian enterprises, towns, villages, municipalities and schools, including the most remote areas across the country.
As India’s Economic Times news service points out, the company, co-owned by Bharti Group and the UK government, was awarded a GMPCS (global mobile personal communications by satellite services) permit from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) about a year ago. Reliance Jio has also received a GMPCS licence to roll out satellite broadband services.
Other satellite service providers like Starlink, Nelco and Amazon’s Project Kuiper could also choose to compete in the Indian satellite broadband market. All, however, appear to be waiting for clarity on a space communications policy. This will define the role of the Indian National Space Promotion & Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) — a central regulatory body — and authorise it to issue landing rights and market access clearances.