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OneWeb sets sail with Navarino to extend connectivity to commercial shipping

Growing satellite broadband provider agreement expands availability of low Earth orbit connectivity for commercial shipping in bid to transform operational efficiency and support smarter shipping

Despite its somewhat controversial beginnings, low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications company OneWeb has established itself as a player in satellite to remote locations and is now taking connectivity to the high seas after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with maritime technology firm Navarino.

The arrangement will see OneWeb become a global distribution partner to deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity to the global commercial shipping industry. The company said combining Navarino’s maritime technology solutions with its connectivity would offer maritime customers “seamless” access to fast, reliable and affordable connectivity solutions. A series of sea trials will be undertaken with Navarino, with the first vessels connected from the first quarter of 2023.

Formed in 2012 with the aim of addressing the connectivity needs of underserved communities, OneWeb has always claimed that its satellite network has a unique capability to provide improved capacity, mobile resilience, backhaul and coverage, including fixed wireless access, in challenging geographic locations.

The company’s constellation of global gateway stations and user terminals are designed to provide an affordable, fast, high-bandwidth, low-latency communications service to the most hard-to-reach places globally, connected to internet of things (IoT) devices and making a pathway for mass adoption of 5G services.

In March, OneWeb signed an agreement with Elon Musk’s Starlink to enable it to break a hiatus of satellite launches, adding to its total in-orbit constellation, which currently stands at 428 satellites – two-thirds of the total intended fleet.

OneWeb’s data speeds will be up to 10 times faster than existing geostationary (GEO) maritime solutions and have a significantly lower latency, claimed Carole Plessy, head of maritime at OneWeb.

“Our mission at OneWeb is to help bridge existing digital divides. This means enabling companies to connect with confidence and greater purpose, protect the marine environment, improve crew welfare, and increase operational efficiency and performance. Through our constellation of satellites, as well as our various partnerships, we will be able to provide global coverage, including throughout the Arctic,” she noted.

“The potential for using enhanced connectivity, particularly on sensitive routes where real-time video and cloud syncing can be used as standard, even on deep sea vessels, is game-changing. Navarino is an industry leader in maritime technology and we’re proud to work with its team to make a difference to the operations of commercial shipping and to shape the future of sustainable smart shipping. Together, we can provide a selection of tailored, customisable broadband channels.”

Navarino CEO Dimitris Tsikopoulos added: “Becoming a distribution partner of OneWeb ensures we can continue to deliver cutting-edge, powerful connectivity to our customers’ fleets, wherever they are in the world. Our industry-leading technology has put us at the forefront of maritime innovation and enabled us to empower our customers, while anticipating their future needs thanks to the way our services continuously evolve. OneWeb’s new satellite constellation and its ambitions for maritime connectivity are a progressive step forward which we are pleased to be a part of.”

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