StarLink’s top competitor takes off

Earth’s orbit is getting a bit more crowded, and that’s good news for Canada’s remote communities.

What happened: OneWeb launched another 36 satellites into orbit, completing its “constellation” of 616 spacecraft transmitting broadband internet down to Earth, and making it the second-largest Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite system after Elon Musk’s StarLink

Why it matters: UK-based OneWeb appears to be racing ahead of Canada’s own Telesat to deliver broadband internet to the remote communities that traditional telcos have struggled to serve. It’s already connected to more than 70 modem-like terminals in the country, and Ottawa-based OneWeb VP Howard Stanley says that number could grow to tens of thousands.

  • OneWeb announced a $50 million deal to sell internet access to Mississauga-based Galaxy Broadband in February, and an Indigenous-controlled, nonprofit internet service provider plans to use OneWeb to serve 18 remote communities.

  • Telesat has received over $1.84 billion in funding commitments from the Canadian government but has only launched one test satellite so far.

Yes, but: What about StarLink? It has over 3,000 satellites in orbit, but OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson says it’s not a direct competitor—StarLink is focused on selling direct to consumers, while OneWeb tends to deal with companies and governments.

What’s next: OneWeb thinks it can break even by 2025, and is planning to launch a second wave of hundreds of more advanced satellites after that.