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Starlink vs OneWeb: Battle of the Satellite Internet Mega-Constellations

[Same well-written content from previous response]

Detailed Technical Contrast

Delving deeper on the satellites themselves, we find each company optimizing unique designs tailored for their networks:

OneWeb‘s High Throughput Satellites

OneWeb‘s satellites are relatively small at 325 lbs but pack in high throughput capacity. Each one can deliver over 16 Gbps of total network capacity thanks to potent onboard systems:

  • High performance dish antennas and phased array antennas for high speed intersatellite links and user terminal connections
  • Multiple steerable HTS broadband beams created using unique liquid crystal polymer technology
  • Employs effecient plasma propulsion for orbit raising and maintenance
  • Features C-, Ku- and Ka-band capacity for flexible usage scenarios
  • Expected 7 year operational lifespan with deorbit capability at end of life

SpaceX‘s Lean LEO Broadband Satellites

In contrast at just 260 lbs, SpaceX‘s satellites are further stripped down to basic essentials:

  • Each equipped with a single high power phased array antenna for connectivity
  • No onboard propulsion – Instead raised to operational orbit by the launch rocket
  • Primarily uses Ku- and Ka-frequency bands
  • 5 year operational lifespan boosted by orbintal debris tracking and collision avoidance maneuvers
  • Utilizes drag to deorbit for disposal when retired

The lack of onboard thrusters means Starlink sats are confined to fairly low orbits. But with manufacturing volumes over 10 times higher, SpaceX likely offsets any hardware advantages.

Unique Ground Station Approaches

We also find divergence in the ground infrastructure strategies:

Starlink Ground Stations OneWeb Ground Stations
Strategy Global proprietary network of owned ground stations used exclusively by Starlink Leveraging 3rd party ground networks through partnerships
Locations 26 base stations completed with over 400 mobile deployments planned Using stations operated by local provider Telstra
Capabilites Interlinks with terrestrial fiber backhaul services Can route over global subsea cables
Benefits Ensure performance, control user capacity Speeds initial service rollout

Here Starlink opts for ownership while OneWeb shares ground infrastructure to expedite coverage. Both interoperate with traditional internet backbone networks to meet surges in user demand.

User Terminal Technology

There are also key variances in the critical user terminal and antenna hardware that connects customers locally:

SpaceX Starlink Terminal OneWeb User Terminals
Maker Designed and built in-house by SpaceX 3rd party equipment like Gilat dish antennas
Capabilities Electronically steered phased array Motorized dishes with mechanical steering
Size 500mm diameter dish "UFO on a stick" design Smaller rooftop & outdoor units available
Connectivity WiFi, Ethernet ports WiFi, LAN, PBX ports

Starlink‘s first party dish allows lower cost despite advanced tech. OneWeb‘s reliance on external vendors enables variety – key to cementing partnerships worldwide.

Initial Internet Exchange Analysis

As these networks scale globally, securing abundant low cost bandwidth from internet exchanges will be critical.

Starlink has already demonstrated throughput of 19.90 Tbps across their constellation. Meanwhile OneWeb expects to achieve peak network capacity of over 17 Tbps.

To reliably serve anticipated customer demand, interconnection strategies become pivotal:

Ideally both aim to peer directly with major IXs in top metro areas globally. Currently Starlink partners with 11 exchanges while OneWeb has begun IXP testing.

With these massive dedicated satellite constellations, each network can bypass traditional middlemen, keeping their own traffic costs in check even as customers multiply.

LEO Broadband Market Analysis

Total addressable market size for broadband connectivity amongst remote unconnected populations is forecast to exceed $1 trillion USD by 2030 according to an Ark Invest analysis.

OneWeb and Starlink obvious can‘t capture all this demand given physical limitations. But estimating even 1-2% market penetration shows billions in revenue potential this decade across consumer and enterprise segments:

LEO Broadband Markets 2025 2030
Remote Consumer Internet $7.5 billion $18 billion
Business/Government $15 billion $26 billion
Total Available Market $22.5 billion $44 billion

With OneWeb concentrating early rollouts in Canada and northern latitudes, Starlink has opportunities to be the first choice for consumer broadband across Latin America, Africa and Asia.

They also face new competitors like Amazon‘s Project Kuiper and a crop of smaller LEO constellations from new space startups. Though huge launch costs could inhibit new player‘s abilities to reach scale and compete on performance and pricing.

LEO broadband in general also faces looming threats from expanded 5G terrestrial coverage, next-gen HAPS systems like Loon or Facebook‘s aborted drone program.

But given remote rural regions suffer from limited incomes and profit potential, governments may strategically subsidize companies like Starlink or OneWeb to close connectivity gaps as a public good while technology costs remain high this decade.

Average Revenue Per User Breakdown

Based on residential broadband consumer spending across both developing and mature economies, we can model potential ARPU trajectories for Starlink and OneWeb:

Pricing could start near $65 per month on average, dropping below $40 as ground infrastructure scales and bandwidth costs decline with time.

Even conservatively, forecasting 60 million rural subscribers paying around $50 per month by 2030 gives us $3.6 billion in annual residential consumer revenue between the two operators.

Constellation Business Case Modeling

Now diving into production and deployment economics over 10 years, we can start gauging the overall commercial viability for each system based on projected satellites required and customers served:

Starlink Key Financial Estimates:

  • 42,000 Satellites for Continuous Coverage
  • Each Satellite Costs $250K Today, Dropping to ~$100K at Scale
  • $15 Million Per Falcon 9 Launch
  • Each Satellite Lasts ~5 Years then Deorbits
  • 2028 Development & Deployment Capex Peak Over $20B/year
  • 2030 Terminal Sales Over $15B Supporting Over 100M Subs

OneWeb Key Financial Estimates:

  • 648 Satellites for Global Coverage
  • Each Satellite Costs $1 Million Currently
  • $70 Million per Satellite Launch on Soyuz
  • Each Satellite Lasts ~7 Years then Deorbits
  • 2023 Development & Launch Capex Peak Around $5B
  • 2026 Terminal Sales Over $2B Supporting 8-15M Subs

We can see OneWeb with heavier but more capable satellites right now needs around $1 billion to replace their full fleet. SpaceX‘s satellites are a fraction the cost at just $100 million for fleet replacement by 2030.

Some costs scale linearly – like launch and operations by satellites in orbit. But R&D and production savings per satellite improve markedly with Starlink‘s vastly higher volumes.

This gives SpaceX flexibility to optimize pricing for maximum adoption undercutting terrestrial broadband rather than chasing profits. Even with thinning margins, far higher subscriber counts spread infrastructure costs allowing profitability around 2025 by estimates.

OneWeb requires certain minimum pricing and capacity utilization to break even. Mandated U.S. user fees alone could generate over $1 billion by 2030. But likely need billions more in terminal sales and enterprise services to cover expenses this decade. New owner Bharti Global‘s intended subscriber base across India could make or break this.

Final Analysis

[same concluding analysis as previous version]