The ambitious goal of the British communications company OneWeb planning to build high-speed broadband covering the entire Arctic next year cannot be achieved now. The company planned to launch a total of 648 satellites, and declared bankruptcy after launching 74 of the planned satellites.
OneWeb launched its plan in September 2019 to provide reliable, low-latency, high-speed Internet services in the Arctic. It plans to provide communication services with speeds up to 375Gbps for areas above 60 degrees north latitude.
OneWeb originally planned to provide 24-hour high-speed broadband network coverage by 2021. The company explained that it will connect the Internet to 48% of the Arctic Circle, which previously had limited network connectivity or no connectivity at all.
The company launched six satellites in August 2019, then launched 34 satellites in February 2020, and launched another 34 spacecraft on March 21, successfully demonstrating the functionality of the entire system.
However, OneWeb filed for bankruptcy at the end of March after launching its 74th satellite and completing or breaking ground on about half of its 44 ground stations.
OneWeb has been negotiating to ensure that it has received investment to support the project to launch all 648 satellites in the first phase. However, due to the impact of the new coronavirus, the company failed to obtain financing. OneWeb is now selling its business.
It is unclear how or whether OneWeb and the US military will provide satellite-based communications cooperation in the Arctic region. OneWeb announced its cooperation with the US military earlier this year.
"Connectivity is critical to our modern economy." Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, USA, said when the project was first announced to the public in September 2019, "With the Arctic Opening constantly to ensure that people in the Arctic have access to affordable and reliable broadband will make development safer and more sustainable, and create new opportunities for the next generation to play a leading role in this region. "
In addition, the long-term state of the 74 satellites that OneWeb has launched is not stable, and who will ultimately be responsible for these abandoned satellites will cause concern.