Kymeta said on September 7 that it had successfully evaluated the u8 broadband terminal on OneWeb’s low-Earth-orbit constellation, attaining downlink rates of 200 megabits per second (Mbps) ahead of the network’s partial deployment later this year. Kymeta’s electronically guided flat panel antenna is now servicing undisclosed clients in geostationary orbit, according to Neville Meijers, the company’s chief strategy officer. Still, it intends to be ready for OneWeb’s mobility clients by the middle of 2022.
OneWeb is almost done building its inaugural constellation of 648 satellites, which will target government and enterprise verticals such as aviation, maritime, and backhaul. The operator expects to deploy partial operations in the Northern Hemisphere in the coming months, with full worldwide services following in 2022. It collaborates with several antenna companies. Intellian Technologies, a South Korean antenna manufacturer, and Collins Aerospace, which is a Raytheon Technologies affiliate, revealed the OW1 user terminal for OneWeb on August 24.
OneWeb is also looking into antenna options alongside Hanwha, a South Korean giant that invested heavily $300 million in the company. Kymeta, according to Meijers, offers advantages in mobility applications, citing the ability of its u8 terminal to link to satellites in GEO and LEO, as well as terrestrial cellular LTE networks, for increased resiliency.
“Mobility is truly our sweet spot,” he explained. “Mobility for the Department of Defense, the government, first responders, marine — the entire shift to always possessing communication, whether you’re on a train or a bus, assisting remote mining and agriculture. That’s where we think we can set ourselves apart from other terminal makers.”
Using Intellian’s LEO gateway antennas, Kymeta and OneWeb announced they conducted several satellite acquisition, tracking, and throughput experiments in Toulouse, France. They claimed that the solo aperture u8 antenna reached over 40 Mbps uplink speeds in addition to 200 Mbps downstream rates after repeated testing.
COVID-19 has impacted supply chains in several industries worldwide, and a component scarcity has caused new antenna models for SpaceX’s LEO constellation Starlink to be delayed. Even though Kymeta’s u8 is already in manufacturing for GEO clients, Meijers said the scarcity is affecting the firm since it buys components in anticipation of future needs.
He stated, “There are component shortages.” “We [do] seek for viable alternative components, but we’ve managed to build a reasonably solid supply chain.”. As a result, we now have a platform that is rather well served. Not that we aren’t affected by the supply deficit like everyone else; we’re just managing it very cautiously so that we can genuinely manufacture antennas and terminals and deliver them to the marketplace, and so far, so good.” Kymeta is in talks with supply chain partners on how to “purchase forward in bigger quantities” to fulfil demand from OneWeb as well as other LEO constellations expected to launch in 2022-2023, according to Meijers.