TAMPA, Fla. — OneWeb launched a free trial offer for maritime customers June 6 after bringing its low Earth orbit (LEO) broadband network online over a larger swathe of the northern hemisphere.

The British operator said its network is now fully operational down to 35 degrees latitude, encompassing much of Europe and the upper United States, after being confined to the 50th parallel and above since late 2021 as it built out the constellation.

While OneWeb now has enough satellites for global services with 634 spacecraft in LEO, including a technology demonstrator for a second-generation system, it expects to finalize the ground stations needed for worldwide coverage by the end of this year. 

The company’s “try before you buy” deal for maritime lasts 45 days, OneWeb said, facilitated by its network of distribution partners.

Financial costs for enterprise-grade OneWeb maritime services that advertise speeds of at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps) were not disclosed.

Maritime connectivity prices for SpaceX’s Starlink LEO constellation, which has been busy adding customers for global coverage touting download speeds of up to 220 Mbps, start at $250 a month — and a one-time $2,500 fee for hardware that includes an antenna built in-house.

U.S.-based Kymeta and Intellian of South Korea are providing the antennas for OneWeb’s maritime services.

The maritime service announcement came a day after the operator said it is expanding a distribution partnership with Hughes Network Systems, a OneWeb investor via parent company EchoStar, to provide global inflight connectivity (IFC) once its LEO services are available for airlines next year.

Hughes, which already provides IFC services via geostationary satellites, has developed an electronically steered antenna for the partnership designed to connect a plane to satellites in LEO and geostationary orbit (GEO). 

Depending on customer needs, the companies plan to offer airlines a LEO-only solution or a hybrid LEO and GEO service.

OneWeb’s offering for enterprises and governments also includes fixed and mobile land-based connectivity services.

Hughes engineered OneWeb’s gateways and is a distribution partner for the operator’s fixed satellite services in the United States and India. The company also distributes OneWeb’s connectivity solutions to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...