Shetland Islands trials OneWeb satellite internet

OneWeb trials Image credit: Shutterstock

London-headquartered OneWeb will trial its satellite-based internet service on the Shetland Islands and Lundy Island.

OneWeb, in which the British government holds a minority stake, will deploy its low-Earth orbit (LEO) internet satellite technology to connect households and businesses in the two remote areas. The internet connection will be facilitated by BT and Clarus.

Neil Masterson, CEO, OneWeb, said: “We are excited to demonstrate the impact of LEO connectivity through these trials.

“From the beginning, OneWeb’s mission has been to bridge the digital divide for communities, but there are still countries around the world where reliable access to connectivity is unattainable.”

The trial follows the completion of OneWeb’s internet satellite constellation in March, when it added 36 more satellites.

Other countries where the firm’s internet is used include Canada and Greenland. It has plans to establish connectivity for British territories in the South Atlantic.

The satellite company was bailed out by the government in 2020, putting $500m (£416m) of taxpayer cash into the business. In July, OneWeb merged with French rival Eutelsat, diluting the government’s near-20% stake. Other shareholders include Softbank and Bharti Global.

The trials come as part of the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, unveiled by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) plans unveiled on Tuesday.

Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “With the help of companies like OneWeb, we are committing £8m to provide satellite connectivity for our most remote communities so that no one is left behind, while ensuring all populated areas in the UK will be served by what I call ‘5G-plus’ technology by 2030.”

The government is also trialling Elon Musk’s satellite broadband service Starlink to provide high-speed internet to rural areas.