OneWeb, according to The Washington Post, will target U.S. consumers, “providing broadband anywhere in the U.S., particularly in rural areas where it can be difficult to provide fast Internet connections using traditional ground-based cables.” According to the Post, the new network will be built on a fleet of 720 satellites, which will orbit earth at an altitude of around 745 miles, and service could start as early as 2019. The approval from the FCC gives the company the ability to use airwaves that will beam the Internet down to earth.
From The Washington Post:
“Satellite Internet services are available now. But today’s technology is slow, expensive and largely out-of-reach for individual consumers. For a connection barely fast enough to support Netflix, users can spend up to $200 a day — making it realistic only for corporate customers or, in some cases, relief workers responding to natural disasters where connectivity is a must. By contrast, the next generation of satellite Internet services promise to reduce lag by bringing the satellites closer to earth. By placing them in low-earth orbit instead of geostationary orbit, Internet data will spend less time in transit — leading to a smoother, faster Internet experience.”
OneWeb was the first to apply for FCC approval, but the commission reports that at least eleven other companies, including SpaceX, have submitted similar plans, which are under consideration. And while OneWeb’s focus is the U.S. market, the company’s efforts have even broader implications for a growing market in the developing world, where network access continues to be a challenge.