How OneWeb’s Connectivity Works

OneWeb satellites operate in higher orbits than Starlinks, working 750 miles (1,200 km) above the surface. Still, both OneWeb and Starlink work far closer to the ground than traditional geostationary communications satellites, which operate at distances 22,370 miles (36,000 km) from Earth. The close proximity results in low latency, allowing your favorite websites and apps to load quickly and smoothly.


For OneWeb, this is translating to latency less than 100 milliseconds across the network and speeds greater than approximately 200 Mbps. SpaceX claims latencies between 25 to 50 milliseconds and expected download speeds between 20 and 250 Mbps, depending on the package and other factors. That said, not everyone gets great service with Starlink, and the service is slowing down as the user base increases. Hence SpaceX’s insatiable craving for more satellites.

Speaking of which, OneWeb is not stopping at 616 Ku-band satellites. For phase two, the company plans to deploy 6,372 satellites, raising the total satellite swarm to 7,000 units, down from the 48,000 it proposed in 2020.


Another similarity between OneWeb and SpaceX is that they’re not the only game in town. The new race for space is the result of affordable access to Earth orbit, prompting other companies to think along the same lines. Amazon’s Project Kuiper, Iridium Certus, Telesat, and Facebook Athena are also vying for a piece of the megaconstellation pie.

Which companies will succeed and how these services may improve your ability to access the internet remain open questions, as are the impacts of these satellites on astronomy.


For more spaceflight in your life, follow us on Twitter and bookmark Gizmodo’s dedicated Spaceflight page.