What Is the Difference Between OneWeb and Starlink?
Two companies have emerged as essential players in the increasingly competitive market for providing worldwide satellite internet connectivity: OneWeb and Starlink.
Both companies are ambitious to launch several satellite constellations in low Earth orbit. This plan aims to provide users with high-speed internet access everywhere globally.
But, there are several key distinctions between the two projects that prospective users, investors, and business observers need to know.
In this post, we answer, What is the difference between OneWeb and Starlinks?
By the end, you’ll understand both network services and determine which one would be the most suitable for your requirements.
Table of Contents
- What is Starlink?
- What is OneWeb?
- Difference between OneWeb and Starlink
- Starlink vs. OneWeb: Which One Is Better?
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a satellite internet system invented by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
The company seeks to offer worldwide high-speed and affordable internet connectivity, especially in remote or underserved areas.
This system consists of thousands of tiny satellites in low-Earth orbit (LEO) linked to form a global network.
As of February 2023, the organization had over 3,580 satellites and plans to launch 12000 more soon.
One key benefit of Starlink is low-latency internet, which drastically shortens the time between a user’s request and the response.
This feature is crucial for real-time data-transmission-dependent applications like virtual meetings, online gaming, and remote work.
Additionally, the company claims its service delivers internet speeds of 150 Mbps, faster than many conventional internet providers.
Users may connect to Starlink utilizing a small satellite dish installed in any open space with a clear sky view.
What is OneWeb?
OneWeb is a satellite communications firm aiming to offer individuals access to high-speed internet, especially in isolated and underserved places.
The company intends to accomplish this by launching a constellation of LEO satellites into orbit around the planet.
By 9 March 2023, the company had launched 582 satellites and has 36 more satellite launches scheduled soon.
OneWeb’s satellites feature sophisticated technology, such as software-defined radios and adaptive antennas, enabling dynamic beam shaping and numerous beams per satellite.
This technology enables challenging locations, such as ships at sea and distant oil rigs, to receive high-quality, low-latency internet connectivity.
OneWeb also allies with top telecommunications companies, such as Airbus, Qualcomm, and SoftBank.
These alliances finance its innovation and help it reach its ultimate objective of closing the digital gap.
Difference between OneWeb and Starlink
While both services use satellite constellation to revolutionize internet connectivity and provide a more reliable service, they have some differences:
Speed & Latency
Internet speed is how faster data can be transmitted between a device and the internet ). Latency means the time it requires for data to travel from a device to the internet and back.
Both OneWeb and Starlink advertise high speeds ranging from 50 Mbps to 1 Gbps.
However, actual speeds can differ based on location, network congestion, and weather.
Starlink records average speeds of 80-150 Mbps, with some subscribers experiencing speeds of up to 200 Mbps.
In contrast, OneWeb has a maximum download speed of 150 Mbps and a maximum upload speed of 20 Mbps.
Starlink claims to have a 20 to 40 ms latency, but the test registers a 40 to 50 ms latency.
While OneWeb claims to have a 32 ms latency, the real test can take up to 70 ms.
OneWeb and Starlink aim to connect consumers to the internet at high speeds from anywhere worldwide. They intend to accomplish this by using a system of low-earth orbiting satellites (LEO).
Nonetheless, each organization may have slightly different precise objectives and priorities.
OneWeb aims to link all mobile gadgets to the web using an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy.
The organization intends to provide solutions to government agencies, companies, and consumers worldwide in remote and underserved areas.
It also intends to collaborate with regional telecom providers to offer users last-mile coverage.
Starlink aims to provide individual consumers with low-latency, reasonably priced internet connectivity, especially in places with little internet infrastructure.
Also, Starlink hopes to offer a competitive alternative to conventional internet providers (ISPs) by providing quicker and more dependable internet.
Number of Satellites
By February 2023, Starlink had already launched over 3,580 satellites and plans to have 42,000 in orbit eventually.
The company has gained regulatory authority to launch up to 12,000 satellites.
OneWeb, on the other hand, intends to put about 648 satellites into low Earth orbit to offer worldwide internet connectivity.
It has launched 582 satellites as of March 2023, and 36 more will soon follow.
As both enterprises adjust to shifting market conditions, legal restrictions, and technology advancements, their satellite deployment may increase.
OneWeb seeks to offer internet connectivity in global locations without typical internet infrastructure, including remote or rural regions.
The organization initially provided its services in areas like the UK, Alaska, Canada, the Arctic, and a few African nations.
OneWeb plans to launch its system of approximately 648 satellites by the end of 2023 to offer worldwide coverage.
Starlink, however, started focusing on the US and Canada to go global eventually.
It provides internet access in more than 50 nations as of March 2023.
These include the United States, Canada, Australia, Nigeria, and sections of Europe.
The organization intends to increase the scope of its service to encompass other nations and regions in Asia and Africa.
Coverage area concept
OneWeb offers internet services using a blend of satellite and ground-based technology. Unlike conventional geostationary satellites, its system operates in low Earth orbit at about 1,200 km altitude.
The OneWeb satellites use a low-mass, high-performance Ka-band payload to provide high-speed internet to its users.
It also employs several ground stations to connect its satellites to the core network, minimize latency, and enhance efficiency.
Starlink employs a similar satellite-based strategy but with some technological distinctions. While still in LEO, its satellite constellation does so at a lower height of about 550 km.
In addition to using Ku-band and Ka-band RF airwaves to deliver internet services, Starlink is also developing advanced technologies.
These include phased-array antennas and inter-satellite laser links to improve its network capabilities.
OneWeb and Starlink internet prices vary depending on location, bandwidth, hardware, and subscription packages.
OneWeb offers unlimited bandwidth for $12.95 monthly with 30 – 70 Mbps upload and 150 Mbps download speeds.
This plan enables users to access the internet anywhere in their home, as long as Wi-Fi is accessible.
The company also intends to collaborate with regional telecommunication and internet providers to deliver affordable services.
Starlink provides an unlimited internet subscription service for $110 monthly plus a $599 one-time hardware price.
The company also launched Starlink Roam service at a monthly cost of $150 to $200 and an equipment fee of $599 to $2,500. In addition,
Starlink Business has a monthly fee of $500 and an initial equipment cost of $2,500.
Internet on smartphone
OneWeb debuted its first six satellites in February 2019 on a Soyuz rocket from French Guiana.
By March 2020, it had deployed 74 satellites which proceeded to launch batches of satellites during 2019 and 2020.
Nevertheless, the corporation declared bankruptcy in March 2020 due to its financial problems, temporarily halting the deployment of satellites.
A group comprised of the UK government and Bharti Global acquired OneWeb in November 2020 and resumed launching in December 2020.
OneWeb has already launched 582 satellites as of March 2023 and has immediate plans to launch the final 36 satellites.
Starlink started deploying its satellites in May 2019 and has carried out routine launches.
As of March 2023, the organization launched more than 3,580 satellites and plans to deploy more soon.
OneWeb is less expensive than Starlink, but Starlink is quicker. Nonetheless, both satellite-based internet providers offer similar advantages, such as.
- Worldwide reach, even in developing countries.
- Low latency high-speed internet connection.
- Backup alternative for internet access in catastrophes, network outages, or other emergencies.
- The scalability to expand internet access as demand rises.
- Enables technological advancements like remote sensing, IoT, and precision agriculture.
Additionally, both businesses face comparable constraints and difficulties, such as:
- Due to their expensive setup, satellite-based internet services can be more expensive than conventional broadband services.
- The latency is often higher than with standard broadband connections.
- Weather factors, including rain, snow, and cloud cover, can affect satellite-based internet services, reducing signal strength and leading to connectivity hiccups.
- Regulatory issues, particularly those related to spectrum allotment and space debris mitigation, may arise during the deployment of satellite constellations.
- The deployment and use of satellites may elevate carbon emissions and space debris, thus affecting the environment.
Starlink vs. OneWeb: Which One Is Better?
According to this research, Starlink seems the better option. The company already has thousands of satellites deployed and plans to deploy thousands more to make its service faster.
While both companies offer their service globally, Starlink features lower latency, higher speeds, and more advanced technology than OneWeb.
However, OneWeb is cheaper and plans to be even cheaper by partnering with telecommunication companies and governments.
Ultimately, the decision between Starlink and OneWeb depends on personal preferences and requirements while considering price and coverage area.
Both firms are also working on creating new technologies to enhance their effectiveness.
Some technologies include advanced antenna designs, laser communication, and artificial intelligence.
Seeing how these services advance and change over time will be intriguing.