Richard Branson Announces Plan For New Satellite Constellation

By: | January 18th, 2015

Soon you may be able to call your local Internet access provider, assuming you aren’t impressed with their services, and tell them to go take a hike – you have a new service provided by a satellite constellation!

Richard Branson Throws Hat in the Ring

One may have wondered what Richard Branson was up to with Virgin Galactic. How could Branson make his space program profitable by sending “rich folk” into orbit? But Branson didn’t become a billionaire and one of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time without comprehensive plans to make his business ventures successful.

Last Wednesday, Branson announced his plans to work with OneWeb Ltd. to build the world’s largest satellite network. The project will be funded by Virgin Group and Qualcomm. This announcement comes just one day before Elon Musk is set to announce the construction of a satellite production facility in Seattle, Washington to begin manufacturing the proposed SpaceX Worldvu satellite network. That’s two billionaires getting into the same business at the same time, so it’s got to have all kinds of strategic importance as a business asset.

The common explanation for these networks is that they will help bring Internet access to people currently without it. However, with high Internet access fees, especially in the US, there’s money to be made from providing these networks to everyone. If Branson’s network is available to me, even at a slight premium, count me in!

The OneWeb network, as currently designed, will include 650 275 lb. (125 kg) satellites deployed at 745 miles (1,200 km) in altitude and will be capable of providing eight gigabits per second of throughput to homes and mobile platforms. The entire network is expected to cost close to $2 billion.

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David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

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