Writing in his blog today, British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson announced an ambitious plan to launch the world’s largest ever Clarke belt satellite constellation. Branson expressed his excitement at the prospect of the transformational project to launch a new constellation of satellites that would provide high speed internet and telecoms access aimed at c. 4 billion people who don’t currently have internet access.
OneWeb Ltd will build, launch and operate the world’s largest ever satellite network. Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne programme will help make it possible with frequent satellite launches at a much lower cost and with greater reliability.
The blog post explains that Virgin have the largest order ever for launching satellites and Branson said by the time our second constellation is developed, the company will have more launched more satellites via its Virgin Galactic Launcher Program than there currently are in the sky.
Qualcomm and The Virgin Group and are the main investors in OneWeb Ltd and Branson wil sit on its board alongside Qualcomm Chairman Dr Paul Jacobs as well as OneWeb Founder, Greg Wyler to whom Branson pays tribute for his vision and persistence.
Statistics from the International Telecommunications Union indicates that more than half the world’s population does not have internet access. The current number of users on the planet is thought to be around 2.9 Billion and Branson hopes the new satellite constellation will enhance that number significantly thereby creating opportunities for the people and economies who can’t access the web, education and economic opportunity
Imagine the possibilities for the three billion people in hard to reach areas who are currently not connected. This project could change lives, transform communities and have a huge positive impact upon the world.Sir Richard Branson, Blog Post
The post on the Virgin.com mentions President Obama’s announcement on new steps to assist more Americans to access the web via better broadband connections. Despite being home to many of the word’s most successful technology businesses, the US doesn’t make the top ten listing of countries with quality broadband connections, it comes in at number 14 in a recent Akamai State of The Internet report.
Branson says the OneWeb project takes that goal even further and sets out with the mission to cover sections of the globe that need high speed telecoms the most.
The opportunity to improve access to education, health care, financial systems, and employment will take a revolution, one that we are tremendously proud to be part of. Providing affordable high-speed Internet access for the world’s unconnected populations is a huge challenge, but one we can’t wait to achieve.
External links & reference
- Richard Branson’s Blog
- Virgin Galactic : Satellite Launch
- The Clarke Belt : explained on Wikipedia
- History of Virgin Group
- Akamai: State of The Web