Low Earth Orbit satellite firm OneWeb is set to place a ground station on the island of St. Helena and take capacity on the island’s trunk of the Equiano subsea cable.

Reported in the St. Helena Independent and spotted by industry observer Philippe Devaux, OneWeb has signed a 10-year ground station agreement with local telco Sure.

marica brazil oneweb telespazio ground station.png
– OneWeb

OneWeb is set to build a ground station at Horse Point, with Sure set to manage the facility. The ground station will then be linked via fiber to the island’s cable landing station at Rupert’s Beach.

Work on the ground station is expected to start ‘fairly shortly,' and be finished by the end of this year.

OneWeb announced a partnership with Sure, which operates on the Falkland Islands, Saint Helena, and Ascension Island, alongside geosynchronous orbit (GEO) satellite firm Intelsat in March 2023 to provide greater coverage to Sure customers.

At the time, Carole Plessy, VP, maritime and Europe at OneWeb, added: “We are excited to support connectivity for some of the most remote communities on the planet through our partnership with Intelsat.”

OneWeb is also set to take 10 percent of St Helena’s share of the Equiano cable capacity. The satellite firm has been in discussions with the St. Helena government since 2017, according to government documents.

First announced in 2019, the Google-led Equiano cable landed at St. Helena in September 2021. It is the only cable landing on the island. The cable, which connects Western Europe to South Africa, launched last year,

The island is currently reliant on satellite connectivity, which provides upload speeds between 512kbps and 768kbps and download speeds between 1,024kbps and 2,048kbps.

The Independent also adds that a second ground station operator may join OneWeb and use the Horse Point ground station, though didn’t provide details.

St. Helena announced its first satellite ground station policy in 2020, with the goal of luring satellite operators to install infrastructure on the South Atlantic island in tandem with the new cable landing.

American Manufactured Structures & Services (AMSS) delivered the modular Cable Landing Station, with funding from the European Development Fund 11th Round (EDF11).

Maestro Technologies is set to develop an island-wide fiber network by the end of the year, though the project is facing delays.

OneWeb this week also announced that BT confirmed a successful live field trial of a 4G LTE cell site using OneWeb’s LEO network for backhaul in the UK. BT said the results were “highly encouraging.”

Meanwhile, SpaceX rockets this week launched two additional O3b mPOWER satellites for SES, the Astranis-owned Arcturus broadband satellite, and a ViaSat-3 satellite