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March 04, 2015

OneWeb's Quest For Better Internet Access Brings Honeywell Into the Fray

High speed Internet access is far from universal. Even in developed, first-world nations like the United States, access is spotty at best. Some believe that the recently-cemented concepts of net neutrality will help on this front, while others think that the answer lies with private enterprise. OneWeb is working toward bringing that high speed access to a large portion of the planet, and in a bid to do so, has turned to Honeywell for help.

The new arrangement, codified under a memorandum of understanding, calls for Honeywell to provide both aircraft equipment and airtime services to OneWeb's satellite constellation, which at last report was to measure over 600 satellites strong. With the 600-plus satellites in place, reports suggest the system will mean around 10 terabits per second Internet access to large portions of the globe. It will also represent the largest such telecommunications array to be put in orbit, with not only higher speed, but also lower latency, than everything else to date. The constellation is set to be in place in four years.

“We look forward to working with Honeywell, which has unparalleled expertise in aerospace connectivity, as a key partner in advancing global connectivity,” Greg Wyler, OneWeb's chief executive officer, said.

This not only helps advance OneWeb's goals, but also Honeywell's goals of improving access to fast connectivity while in flight. Back in 2012, Honeywell was also seen making arrangements with Inmarsat in a bid to provide that improved connectivity, so for Honeywell to carry on with OneWeb would seem to represent a continuation of that overall goal. Honeywell Aerospace's vice president of marketing and product management, Carl Esposito, assented to the notion.

“At Honeywell, our goal is to expand in-flight connectivity through ambitious technology innovation. By leveraging OneWeb's satellite network, we can bring the benefits of connectivity to new customers, improving aircraft efficiency, safety, comfort and security.”

Indeed, high speed access has been tough to come by for a lot of people for a long time. While I'm rather skeptical of the idea that satellite is the way to go, having used satellite myself not so long ago, it does seem to be the best way to cover large amounts of ground universally. But satellite access has always been expensive, and generally too high of latency and too low of bandwidth to do much good. If the OneWeb / Honeywell alliance can figure out a way to get huge amounts of bandwidth at decent speeds—as opposed to the other way around where speed is the top focus instead of quantity—then it may well have the biggest problem of satellite access licked. Naturally, it's going to be a long time before we even get to try such access—at least four years, by current reports—but it may well be that OneWeb's got the problem under control.

It's going to be exciting to see if the OneWeb constellation, backed up by Honeywell equipment, can help solve the bandwidth problem that a lot of places have these days, because the sooner we can get everyone high speed access, the better off we'll all likely be in the long run.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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