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UK’s OneWeb Awarded Satellite Communications Landing Rights In Nigeria

Artist’s rendering of a OneWeb satellite. Image courtesy of OneWeb.

The Nigerian Communicatons Commission (NCC) has released a list of 55 authorised space stations and the licensees allowed to provide satellite communications services across Nigerian sovereign territory, with the UK’s OneWeb being the only megaconstellation provider listed.

Other satellite communications providers on the list include Inmarsat, Eutelsat, SES, Intelsat, Avanti Hylas-2, and the United Arab Emirates’ leading satellite communications provider Yahsat.

The NCC list was released on 31 December 2019, and provides information on the name and nationality of the licensees, orbital location of the satellites providing Nigerian coverage, frequency band and range data, type of service to be provided (fixed or mobile), bandwidth, and duration of the landing right granted.

The NCC list is notable as it provides a glimpse of the status of satellite communication megaconstellation business models. While most media attention is focused on the number and launches of thousands of satellites by the likes of OneWeb, SpaceX’s Starlink, and others, the commercial success of these ventures will depend on their ground and user infrastructure as well as national permission to operate in individual countries.

Despite already launching several hundred satellites, most recently on 7 January 2020, SpaceX’s Starlink has so far not been awarded any Nigerian space stations and landing rights. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and one of the continent’s fastest growing and largest economy, so it is not unreasonable to assume that it would be a target market for any megaconstellation service.

The NCC list suggests that OneWeb may well be leading the megaconstellation pack when it comes to establishing not only all-important landing rights, but also in its imminent roll out of ground and user infrastructure.

The NCC has stated, however, that it intends to update its list twice a year if it receives further applications for space station use and landing right requests from operators, so SpaceX’s Starlink and other megaconstellation operators may appear on it yet.

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