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OneWeb unveils its smallest user terminal for LEO broadband

COLORADO SPRINGS — OneWeb has unveiled a briefcase-sized electronically steered user terminal called OW1, which it says is the smallest yet that is capable of connecting to its low Earth orbit constellation.

The startup plans to integrate the flat-panel antenna with a OneWeb satellite modem in a sealed outdoor unit for distribution later this year. 

OW1 was developed in partnership with South Korean antenna maker Intellian Technologies and Collins Aerospace, a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies.

OneWeb has said it has plans in place to develop a range of antennas, comprising flat panels and dual parabolic dishes, to support a LEO broadband constellation of nearly 650 satellites. 

OW1’s unveiling comes after Intellian announced a US$73 million contract with OneWeb March 8 to develop and supply compact user terminals.

The flat-panel antenna is 50x43x10 centimeters, according to OneWeb, weighing around 10 kilograms. 

The outdoor antenna is designed to connect to an indoor unit through a single combined power and data cable, enabling connectivity to devices including laptops and routers.

“The OW1 is our first flat-panel antenna, following years of investment in R&D, expanding our comprehensive OneWeb portfolio,” said Intellian CEO Eric Sung.

Intellian has teamed up with Hughes Network Systems to demonstrate managed satcom services in strategic Arctic locations for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

OneWeb has also partnered with Israel antenna maker SatixFy to build terminals for aircraft to enable in-flight connectivity services. 

On Aug. 12, OneWeb said it had received a $300 million strategic investment from Hanwha, the South Korean conglomerate that bought British antenna startup Phasor Solutions last year.

It remains unclear how OneWeb could integrate Hanwha’s antennas into its infrastructure.

“We will be working with a number of user terminal providers and look forward to learning more about Hanwha’s products,” a OneWeb spokesperson said.

The investment from Hanwha gives OneWeb $300 million on top of the $2.4 billion it had already secured, which it said completed the constellation’s funding. 

OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson told SpaceNews on the sidelines of Space Symposium in Colorado that the company has not yet decided how to deploy the extra cash.

“First of all, it’s always good to have dry powder in any business, and particularly these sorts of businesses,” Masterson said.

He said the funds could be used to accelerate market penetration, for acquisitions or deploy a second-generation constellation faster.

Arianespace successfully launched an extra 34 satellites for OneWeb’s first-generation network Aug. 21.

At 288 satellites so far, OneWeb has deployed 44% of its constellation, ahead of planned services before the end of this year to Canada, the U.K. and Northern Europe.

The operator plans to provide global services for enterprise and government customers in 2022.

Read the full Q&A with OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson in the upcoming edition of SpaceNews.

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