The tensions between SpaceX (Starlink) and OneWeb, two US players in the satellite Internet market, are over. They are burying the hatchet in front of the US telecommunications regulator and seeking new approvals.
In a joint letter addressed to the Federal Communications Commission, the companies SpaceX and OneWeb indicated that they had reached a coexistence agreement. In other words, the two providers of satellite Internet access want to agree to efficiently operate their constellations of small satellites in non-geostationary low orbit.
“After extensive coordination discussions in good faith, the parties are pleased to inform the Panel that they agree that their respective first-generation systems can effectively co-exist with each other and that their second-generation systems can co-exist as well. effectively with each other while protecting their respective already deployed systems”can we read in this letter.
The US telecommunications regulator is visibly beginning to worry about the number of constellation projects swarming the satellite Internet market, with players such as Space Norway, Telesat and Amazon (Kuiper project) all wanting to send satellites in low orbit for identical purposes. However, this increases the risk of collision, but also generates disturbances in space observation.
Both SpaceX and OneWeb are taking the opportunity to ask the FCC to quickly approve their plans for their second-generation satellites and constellations. They ensure that all the comments and attacks made in the past against each other are no longer valid. Clashes which had also perhaps contributed to worrying the commission.
Thousands of satellites already launched, and more waiting
The FCC authorized the two companies to launch their service in 2016. SpaceX – which markets its offer under the name Starlink – and OneWeb now plan to begin the deployment of their second generation of satellites in order to support the ramp-up of their respective networks to both improve their planetary coverage and increase speeds at the benefit of users.
To date, Starlink relies on more than 2,500 satellites already deployed at around 550 km altitude (and plans to launch thousands more) when OneWeb is content with 428 satellites at around 1,200 km, with the ambition to quickly reach 650 vehicles in orbit.
During our Starlink test in October 2021, we observed in France speeds oscillating between 120 and 300 Mb/s (between 11 and 25 Mb/s in upload speed) for a latency of between 42 and 52 ms. A godsend for anyone who lives very far from a fiber optic strand and has to make do with a few Mb/s with the wind at their back in xDSL. Under favorable conditions, OneWeb now offers performance of around 170 Mb/s download and 30 Mb/s upload for 45 ms ping.