OneWeb Satellite Network Fails To Gain Russian Approval

Russia continues to refuse to allow London-based start-up OneWeb to deploy its satellite-based broadband service in that country.

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.

Global connectivity

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.

But its plans to offer broadband connectivity in the Russian Federation continues to be thwarted.

According to Bleeping Computer, OneWeb once again failed to convince the Russian State Commission for Radio Frequencies (SCRF) to provision the radio frequencies needed by the company to work within the Russian Federation.

It had first reportedly submitted its application to the SCRF to operate in Russia back in 2017, as it apparently needs “multiple radio frequencies” for the operation of the OneWeb satellite system in Russia.

Bleeping Computer, citing multiple reports from local Russian media, reported that the reason behind the refusal to allocate OneWeb satellite system frequencies could be the position of Russian law enforcement agencies, which are concerned that controlling the foreign Internet provider will be an impossible task.

Russian internet

It should be remembered that Russia under President Putin is seeking 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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