Satellite Internet companies OneWeb and SpaceX are competing for lucrative deals to provide broadband internet in the Arctic.
The launch of OneWeb of 36 satellites this week helps bring it closer to its goal of bringing the internet to the region by the end of the year.
SpaceX, which brings the internet to thousands of consumers through its Starlink pilot program, is looking to the same region.
The launch of 36 new Internet satellites brought the OneWeb constellation to 146.
The company’s initial plans to cover the Arctic with the internet by 2020 have been derailed by bankruptcy.
The British company now has a new target of five launches to enable coverage everywhere north of the 50th parallel.
The December launch was the first, and this month’s launch was the second, and the company aims to reach the fifth launch in June.
And unlike the constellation SpaceX, which orbits the planet along equatorial lines, OneWeb orbits are pole-to-pole.
This means that the traditionally quiet northern and southern regions of the internet will soon become a satellite intersection of the British company’s network.
It is possible that the next generation of OneWeb satellites will have optical connections, which allow the satellites to talk to each other in space.
This could reduce the need for expensive ground stations in hard-to-reach areas of the Arctic.
OneWeb has not released user terminal designs or monthly pricing plans, and its planned suite of 648 satellites is much smaller than SpaceX.
Satellites at higher altitudes can broadcast to wider areas of the Earth, and the downside is the increased latency, or the time it takes to transfer data between the satellite and its destination.
On the other hand, SpaceX is advancing its space network, driven by massive funding rounds and money from its billionaire founder.
It launched more than 1,300 satellites into orbit below the OneWeb constellation, which is just a fraction of the large planned 30,000 constellation.
SpaceX won regulatory approval to launch its first 10 satellites into polar orbit in January.
SpaceX is now pushing for permission to launch dozens of other satellites into polar orbits, where it can provide broadband service to remote areas of Alaska.
SpaceX considers this area to be of particular value to the US military, and given that the US Northern Command is looking at commercial options to bring faster internet to the Arctic, it has lost Visit Pentagon officials SpaceX and OneWeb facilities.
The Air Force’s global Lightning program is approaching a new phase of satellite internet contract distribution in Arctic regions.
Military interest in improving the Arctic internet was evident last year, when the former commander of US Northern Command requested Congress $ 130 million for a polar communications program that would benefit Starlink and OneWeb.
In recent years, the US military has been quick to rethink its strategy in the Arctic, as rapid climate change is melting ice caps in the region, redrawing major shipping routes, and opening new routes for naval ships and submarines.
The push for broadband in the Arctic is part of this shift in strategy.
Leaders need better ship and aircraft communications after the region’s barriers to movement dissolve in order to form a new phase of competition between the United States, Russia and China.
Most of the communication satellites in existence today are flying over the equator, and they cannot see the polar region.
Some satellites in higher orbits provide data services to the polar regions, but to a limited extent, especially for the growing military demand for data.
The satellite network proposed by OneWeb and the Telesat satellite network, which is partially orbiting the Earth from pole to pole, aim to bridge the data gap in the Arctic.
SpaceX is awaiting FCC approval to send an additional 348 satellites into polar orbit, satisfying demand from federal broadband users who could have significant national security benefits.
As SpaceX heads into a polar orbit, the approved orbital design of the OneWeb constellation gives it the North Pole advantage.
All satellites cross over the polar region with respect to OneWeb, so the highest concentration of their capacity is in the polar regions, opening the opportunity to move from a data-deficient situation to one with an overwhelming amount of data available.