Also in this roundup: Ofcom report shows UK fiber growth; Virgin Media says November was the busiest month for data; Openreach creates jobs to "build back better."
OneWeb has launched 36 satellites into orbit, marking its first launch since emerging from bankruptcy in July. This latest deployment brings OneWeb's satellites in orbit to 110. Ultimately it plans to launch 648 low-Earth orbit satellites to its broadband constellation. "Lift-off occurred on 18 December at 12:26 GMT. OneWeb's satellites separated from the rocket and were dispensed in nine batches over a period of 3 hours 52 minutes with signal acquisition on all 36 satellites confirmed," said the company in a press release. With this latest launch, OneWeb says it is on track to launch regional commercial service in 2021 and global service in 2022. "Each launch moves us closer to our goal of building this much-needed global, secure, trusted, enterprise-grade broadband network, powered from space," Neil Masterson, OneWeb CEO, said in a statement. You can watch the launch below:
A new Connected Nations report from UK regulator Ofcom shows that 8 million homes can now access gigabit broadband, with 5 million of those coming from full fiber rollouts. In the last year, full fiber access has increased by 80%, which the regulator says is the "largest increase to date." According to the report, full fiber availability is highest in Northern Ireland, with 56% coverage, followed by Wales (19%). All in all, full fiber broadband is now available to 18% of UK homes, up from 1.7% in 2016. Ofcom urges "continued investment" in fiber services and says it will publish guidance in March "to promote competition and supercharge investment."
Speaking of all that UK broadband, Virgin Media announced that it's had a "record-breaking 2020" in terms of home broadband use. The company says that customers downloaded an extra 2.8GB of data per day on average. November was the busiest month for network traffic driven by a national lockdown and new games and consoles. "During November, customers downloaded an average of 17.3GB per day – enough to stream six hours of HD TV, send and receive 900 emails, play three hours of online games, as well as spending hours browsing the web and social media channels – all in the space of 24 hours," Virgin Media said in a press release. Despite everyone being home, mobile data usage also increased by 23% this year as well.
Joe Biden has yet to be sworn in as president of the United States, but his campaign slogan is echoing worldwide. In a series of press releases, Openreach has touted its work to "build back better" in the UK by creating 5,300 new engineering jobs to be filled in 2021 in the interest of furthering its nationwide broadband rollout. "The new roles, located in communities throughout the country, will enable the company to continue improving service levels across its existing networks, whilst building and connecting customers to its new, ultrafast, ultra-reliable 'Full Fibre' broadband network at a record pace," Openreach said in a release. The jobs expansion includes 2,500 in Openreach's service and network build divisions and 2,800 positions with supply chain partners. That's no malarkey.