OneWeb's space lasers scheme to safeguard broadband


Broadband venture OneWeb could use lasers in space to provide crucial back-up if undersea communication cables were attacked by hostile nations

The Government-backed broadband venture OneWeb could use lasers in space to provide crucial back-up if undersea communication cables were attacked by hostile nations, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. 

The Government said last week that a Royal Navy ship with underwater drones will be used to protect thousands of miles of submarine fibre cables amid fears they could be tapped or cut by countries including Russia and China. Earthquakes and fishing boats can also damage the cables. 

In focus: OneWeb could use lasers in space to provide crucial back-up if undersea communication cables were attacked by hostile nations

In focus: OneWeb could use lasers in space to provide crucial back-up if undersea communication cables were attacked by hostile nations

But Richard Franklin, UK managing director of defence and space at Airbus, which builds OneWeb satellites, said new technology under test could provide an ‘unjammable’ backstop. 

He said: ‘There’s a perceived vulnerability of the very high throughput fibre optic cables. How do you create a satellite backbone that could in part create resilience for those? We see that happening through the use of lasers in space.’ 

OneWeb, pulled out of bankruptcy by the Government and Indian billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal last year, has 146 satellites in orbit with hundreds more planned. Its next generation of satellites may use lasers to transmit data to each other and to Earth. 

Separately, Airbus has created superfast laser satellite communications which can detect oil spills, map wildfires and help to control borders. 

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