Tuesday 4 May 2021 7:47 am

Oneweb in talks to play role in new navigation system to rival GPS

The government-backed satellite network Oneweb is reportedly in talks to build a UK navigation system in a bid to rival GPS. 

UK space officials are currently reviewing options for investment in position, navigation and timing (PNT) technology. The UK was forced out of the European Galileo satellite programme during Brexit negotiations so a new programme would help reduce UK dependence on America and the EU. 

The Government had started work on building an alternative to Galileo and GPS last year but it was scrapped amid mounting concerns over costs of up to £5bn. 

Read more: Oneweb raises $550m as French satellite firm Eutelsat takes major stake

Now officials are looking at other options with the Telegraph reporting a system involving Oneweb’s “low earth orbit” satellites being considered. Officials have drawn up a number of possible scenarios, including Oneweb satellites receiving data from existing systems, like Galileo or GPS, and broadcasting a separate backup signal that would be less vulnerable to interference. 

The company came close to collapse last year but was rescued by a $1bn bailout by the UK and Indian billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal.

Read more: BT in talks with Oneweb over satellite broadband rollout

In January Japanese conglomerate Softbank pumped $400m into the project, alongside $50m from US telecoms group Hughes Network Systems.

Its technology has been tipped as a potential solution to rolling out full-fibre broadband services in the most remote parts of the UK.