LEO: Post-Pandemic Connectivity

How can LEO help drive forward communities in a post-pandemic world?

The performance of existing digital infrastructure throughout the two-year long pandemic was pivotal in enabling companies across the UK to continue business from home. Nevertheless, as with numerous things, Covid-19 uncovered and highlighted several hard truths: With over 90% of the UK still unable to access full fibre internet due to the complexity of construction, basic video communication with family and friends was not possible for all communities. So, what can be done post-pandemic to ensure these communities are not left behind once again?

In this article, we explore the option of Low-Earth Orbit satellites as a minimal disruption, lower-cost community internet option to bridge the divide between the connected and unconnected.

Work from home

The closure of workplaces across various industries and sectors was inevitable at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic and although a furlough scheme was introduced, it did not accommodate all employees across the UK. Those considered key workers continued to work using PPE and other precautionary measures set out by the government.

While some individuals did not meet the specification of a key worker, the opportunity to work from home was afforded to those who had the resources to do so. Since then, and as we near the end of the pandemic, studies have shown that working from home was beneficial to employees and companies alike. 25-30% of UK office-based workers will now continue to work from home post-pandemic.

The Connectivity Divide

Due to the stay-at-home order, the pandemic was the cause of an overwhelming dependency on connectivity. The growing use of digital devices at home for work, online communications, and online shopping, even as we potentially enter an endemic, has placed pressure on the telecoms industry. What began as three weeks grew to what has now been two years, resulting in governments upgrading telecoms employees to key worker status.

Regarding performance, the digital infrastructure and work conducted by telecoms providers were commended during the pandemic. The surge in demand has placed a strain on the infrastructure, however complete loss of connectivity for lengthy periods is very rare. Separate from performance, an issue that has become very apparent was the digital divide between communities. Not everyone can work from home, nor can they communicate with friends and family as freely, due to unreliable or no internet access.

Many communities still do not have access to high-performing digital infrastructure, with others receiving no access at all. In the UK alone, just 2.3% (2021) of communities have access to full fibre coverage and it is widely thought that the only way to prevent others from being left behind as the world begins a Covid-19 recovery, is to bridge the divide now. The UK Government has proposed £900M to a recovery project and investment into UK-wide digital infrastructure would help everyone to move on from this pandemic together.

Bridging the divide with LEO

OneWeb’s innovative new Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellites are making strides in connecting those who do not have access to stable and reliable internet. The satellites, which orbit at an altitude of 1200km, provide scalability and sustainability to a range of industries including oil and gas, aviation, and maritime. Recently, LEO satellites have provided an indigenous area in Alaska with low-latency, high-speed connectivity, allowing the community to grow, develop and expand their education, healthcare, and communications infrastructure. The work carried out in Alaska shows the capabilities of LEO satellites, presenting the solution as a viable and key option in bridging the connectivity divide.

Benefits of LEO satellites in comparison to other solutions:

  • Minimal construction disruption in comparison to other connectivity solutions such as fibre
  • Rapid deployment
  • Offers complete global coverage
  • Less susceptible to damage due to positioning
  • Materials are low in cost
  • Reduces timely/ costly errors

As a OneWeb partner, we can help you. To find out more, do not hesitate to contact our team on 0330 1244 805, or fill in our enquiry form.

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