OneWeb, a UK based satellite connectivity company recently announced two new partnerships with telecommunications providers in Australia. The deals will see Vocus and Field Solutions Group (FSG), resell OneWeb’s wholesale and retail Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite connectivity services to consumers, governments and enterprise in Australia.
Compared to traditional satellite connectivity, which is provided via geosynchronous orbit (GEO) satellites, LEO being much closer to the earth’s atmosphere provides much higher bandwidth and lower latency broadband compared to GEO. For example, in March 2021 OneWeb demonstrated speeds of 500Mbps and 32ms latency in tests with their fleet of satellites.
By comparison NBN’s GEO service SkyMuster has a maximum wholesale speed of 25 Mbps downlink and 5Mbps uplink, with independent tests putting latency around 600ms. OneWeb’s capabilities will give Vocus and FSG opportunities to expand their business in the critical energy and mining sectors in regional and rural Australia.
Vocus and OneWeb can provide high speed connectivity
Vocus became OneWeb’s first distribution partner in Australia in December 2021 and hopes to launch the first commercial clients by mid-2022. While Vocus already has one of the most extensive fiber networks in rural regions in Western Australia and the Northern Territories, the deal with OneWeb will greatly enhance its ability to provide connectivity services to the most remote sites using Vocus fiber as backbone and OneWeb LEO as last mile.
Vocus has been actively targeting the energy and minerals industries along Australia’s northern shore. It recently became an anchor tenant in NextDC’s newest Dariwn data center and recently completed the connection of the North West Cable systems (NWCS) between Port Headland and Darwin, to the Australia Singapore Cable (ASC), giving it some of the best infrastructure in the region to support these verticals.
However, for the most remote sites, Vocus previously relied on its own Geostationary satellite services, which compared to LEO have limited bandwidth available, at high costs. The addition of OneWeb services will enable high-speed connectivity for even the most remote sites.
FSG – the rural connectivity specialist
FSG, OneWeb’s second Australian distribution partner, is a rural connectivity specialist which started by offering fixed wireless access and NBN services to rural communities across Australia. Following the award of mmWave 5G spectrum in 2020, the company is now constructing its own mobile network termed the Regional Australia Network (RAN) that seeks to provide a fourth LTE/5G MNO option for regional Australians, councils and enterprise outside urban circles.
The company’s deal with OneWeb will enable it to accelerate the deployment of its 4G/5G network, which will include over 200 towers by the end of 2023. Beyond accelerating the rollout of their RAN, the partnership with OneWeb will greatly enhance FSGs capabilities to support the mining and oil ang gas industries with private LTE and 5G networks. OneWeb will enable the backhaul of local private networks through a single ground station, meaning FSG can deploy networks anywhere.
Private 5G networks are a growing space for heavy industrial verticals, with the low latency and high bandwidth properties enabling use cases like autonomous vehicle control. Further, OneWeb offers direct connectivity into AWS and Azure, meaning remote sites will be able to access clouds to offload data and non-critical applications. If FSG with OneWeb further develops capabilities around edge and IoT or brings in partners with these specialties the company could be well positioned to win private networking deals in the key mining and energy verticals.