OneWeb Satellite Network Denies Russia Refused Approval

London-based start-up OneWeb has denied that Russia has refused to allow it to deploy its satellite-based broadband service in that country.

Last week Russian media reports suggested that the Russian State Commission for Radio Frequencies (SCRF) denied it the provision of the radio frequencies needed by the company to work within the Russian Federation.

But OneWeb has now told the BBC that it had submitted, but then withdrawn an application, to use radio frequencies in Russia.

Bid withdrawn

“OneWeb’s joint venture in Russia has withdrawn its application for landing rights in the Russian Federation,” Mikhail Kaigorodov, OneWeb’s commercial director for Russia was quoted as saying by the BBC.

“The withdrawal of the application has been done in accordance with applicable procedures and with the approval of the state authorities,” he added.

“An application withdrawal was required to ensure compliance with the newly-introduced requirements related to national security, that are now necessary for landing rights approval,” Kaigorodov reportedly said.

“The landing rights application for the OneWeb system in Russia shall be supplemented, revised, and submitted again,” he added. “OneWeb looks forward to working with the Russian government to bring its services to the country.”

OneWeb, founded by US telecoms entrepreneur Greg Wyler and based in West London, plans to have its network in place by 2021.

The network is ultimately planned to consist of some 2,000 satellites – which roughly the total number of satellites in operation around the Earth today.

OneWeb launched its first broadband satellites in February and it intends to build an initial network of 650 satellites around the world operating at 1,200km above the earth.

It was helped in March this year when OneWeb said it had raised a total of $3.4 billion (£2.63bn) in private funding, paving the way for a series of monthly launches this autumn to build the world’s first high-speed, satellite-based broadband network.

Russian internet

It should be remembered that Russia under President Putin is seeking to have the ability to disconnect the country from foreign Internet servers.

In May he signed a signed a controversial bill that routes Russian web traffic through points controlled by Russian government.

The law had already been approved by lawmakers in the State Duma, the Russian equivalent of the Houses of Parliament, despite the protests of thousands of people, concerned it would tighten government controls of the Internet in Russia.

Russian lawmakers had backed the tighter internet controls, as they believe it is necessary to prevent foreign meddling in Russia’s affairs.

Essentially, the law will increase Russian “sovereignty” over its Internet presence, and the legislation has been labelled in the Russian media as the “sovereign internet” bill.

The law will allow Russia to route all Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by the Russian government.

It also proposes building a national Domain Name System (DNS) to allow the internet to continue functioning even if the country is cut off from foreign infrastructure.

Russian Internet firms have until 1 November to comply with the law.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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