OnQ Blog

Connecting the unconnected—Qualcomm and OneWeb developing a global network to extend the reach of the Internet

Aug 26, 2015

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

We all need access. By which I mean high-speed Internet access—delivered via connectivity (primarily wireless) to terrestrial networks (both fixed and mobile), providing billions of people everywhere with access to entertainment, education, healthcare, retail, and much more. Well actually, I should really not say ‘everywhere’…

The reality of the situation is that over half the world still has no way to connect and is left without access to the same networks that you and I have come to depend on. OneWeb and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., are on a mission to change that—working together to build a global communications network that will extend high-performance Internet access to unserved and underserved areas around the world. 

The OneWeb communications network is enabled through a next generation low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite constellation made up of 100s of satellites, orbiting at approximately 1,200 kilometers and working in coordination to create the world’s largest coverage footprint. Unlike existing Geosynchronous (GEO) satellite solutions, which orbit at approximately 36,000 kilometers, the OneWeb satellite constellation is closer to earth thus delivering a superior, low-latency mobile broadband user experience. And best of all, the OneWeb network will integrate with terrestrial networks to extend 3G, 4G LTE (including LTE Unlicensed), and Wi-Fi services, allowing consumers to leverage the vast ecosystem of mobile devices.

The OneWeb Communications Network.

The OneWeb communications network provides satellite backhaul for terrestrial small cells, bringing high-performance Internet access to more people, in more places through various usage and business models such as:

Providing access direct to home, health centers, schools, business, and other end-users.

This all sounds great! However, the reality is that building, launching, and operating the OneWeb network to achieve this vision is no small task, and it comes with ample challenges. Fortunately, OneWeb is building key elements to make this vision a reality, working with industry leaders to enable volume production of satellites at economies of scale and ensure timely deployment of the full satellite constellation. And when it came to designing many of the technology innovations required to create the high-speed network, OneWeb reached out to Qualcomm to leverage our 30+ years of wireless and networking breakthroughs that have helped fuel the growth of mobile, which has brought Internet access to billions of people worldwide.

Qualcomm Research, the R&D division of Qualcomm Technologies, is designing many of the technology innovations required for the OneWeb network. We are developing a new, high-performance wireless air interface for end-to-end satellite communications including system design and implementation of wireless coding, modulation and protocols. To deliver reliable connectivity, the wireless air interface will enable intra-satellite, inter-satellite and inter-gateway handoffs. It will also be designed with advanced interference avoidance techniques to adhere to spectrum requirements. To help ensure the OneWeb system will be ready for commercialization, Qualcomm Research is also developing a modem hardware and software reference design for the OneWeb User Terminals—the terrestrial access nodes to enable connectivity to the satellite network.

In addition to the wireless air interface, Qualcomm Research is also performing end-to-end system analysis and optimizations (e.g. coverage, capacity, latency) for communications between OneWeb consumers and the Internet. This includes working together with OneWeb and other industry leaders to develop the network architecture for satellite communication and core network connectivity, as well as integration with terrestrial 3G/4G LTE mobile networks.

If you are reading this blog, you are likely connected and I encourage you to use that high-speed Internet access to download our presentation to learn more about the Qualcomm and OneWeb vision. For those who are not, I hope to connect with them soon thanks to the OneWeb network!

OneWeb is a trademark of WorldVu Satellites Ltd.


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Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

Matt Branda

Director, Technical Marketing

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