After launching 248 satellites into space, global communications company OneWeb has officially signed its first contract with service providers Pacific Dataport and Microcom, providing the people of the Akiak tribe in south-western Alaska with broadband internet for the first time ever. If this venture proves successful, it could become a real boon for rural areas, which are largely undersupplied with reliable internet access.
As evidenced by our charts based on estimates by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), even in the Americas only 50 percent of households in rural areas had access to the internet in 2019. With the exception of the African continent, urbanized regions on the other hand showed high penetration rates. The smallest gap between urban and rural areas can be seen in Europe, even though the APAC region accounts for over half of all fixed broadband subscriptions worldwide.
Satellite-based internet connections are often the only option for areas without access to fixed or mobile broadband internet solutions. As of now, only 3.75 million of a total of 1.2 billion broadband subscriptions are satellite-based. While SpaceX' Starlink is aiming for individual consumer contracts and is currently in its beta testing phase, OneWeb plans to sell its services in bulk to service providers and countries.