Virginia, U.S.A. - OneWeb has successfully tested a key enabling technology called "Progressive Pitch™" that will ensure our smart satellites use Space and spectrum as efficiently as possible when we launch commercial services in 2020.
"Progressive Pitch" describes a maneuver in which OneWeb's Ku-band satellites tilt slightly as they approach the equator, to avoid the risk of interference with geostationary (GEO) satellites operating on the same frequency from a far greater orbital distance overhead.
The probability of this ‘inline radiofrequency interference event’ happening is highest when OneWeb's low-Earth orbiting satellites cross directly over the Earth’s equator. This area is known as the GEO Exclusion Zone.
The "Progressive Pitch" technique kicks in as they approach, pass through and exit this area.
Normally OneWeb satellites point their beams straight down to the Earth's surface. During
"Progressive Pitch" the satellites tilt in one direction and then the other whilst certain beams are turned off, before resuming their normal attitude.
Each satellite has 16 beams, some of which are ‘trailing beams’ at the back of the satellite. When we pitch the satellite, these trailing beams create a line-of-sight path from our customers to the satellite that is very close to the line between GEO satellites and their users.
An interference event can occur, when the angle between these two lines is small enough. So, to be safe, we briefly turn these trailing beams off as they pass over the equator, and reverse the pitch once the beams are off.
As the satellites exit the GEO Exclusion Zone, the beams which were turned off are turned back on - but now point back towards the equator, allowing us to provide 100% fiber-like coverage seamlessly, without the risk of interference.
*OneWeb is one of the few companies to share radiofrequency spectrum with several GEO satellites, and holds an issued patent in the U.S.A. that covers this "Progressive Pitch™" technique, with patent applications in process in various other countries.