Taiwan's satellite industry poised for breakthrough with OneWeb collaboration

Allen Hsieh, Taipei; Vyra Wu, DIGITIMES Asia 0


In the wake of a recent seismic event in Taiwan's eastern region, the Ministry of Digital Affairs (MODA) has forged an unprecedented alliance with Chunghwa Telecom. To leverage low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites for urgent communication needs, marking a significant milestone in Taiwan's disaster response capabilities.

At the heart of this collaboration lies the deployment of satellite technology from Eutelsat OneWeb, a global player second only to SpaceX in satellite operations. For Taiwanese supply chain enterprises, this presents a golden opportunity to tap into new markets and assert their prowess on the global stage.

In a nuanced exploration of this burgeoning partnership, it becomes evident that the user terminals (UT) crucial for satellite communication are sourced from Kymeta, a distinguished American satellite antenna manufacturer endorsed by OneWeb. Notably, Taiwan boasts a cadre of supply chain entities eager to embed themselves in the OneWeb ecosystem, some of whom have already navigated the rigorous inspection process.

MODA official reveals ambitious plans for the future, including the establishment of a OneWeb testing center on Taiwanese soil by 2025. This strategic move promises to catalyze local manufacturers' integration into OneWeb's supply chain, heralding a new era of collaboration and innovation.

Amidst the global frenzy surrounding LEO satellites, Taiwanese telecommunications firms are positioning themselves for a slice of the pie, actively courting partnerships with European and American satellite behemoths. Unlike the closed ecosystems of competitors like SpaceX, OneWeb's relatively open supply chain beckons Taiwanese enterprises with promises of collaboration and co-creation.

Should the envisioned OneWeb testing center materialize in Taiwan, local supply chain players express buoyant optimism regarding their prospects. No longer will they need to traverse continents for testing; OneWeb's decision to establish a presence in Taiwan underscores the island nation's growing importance in the global tech landscape.

MODA has disclosed two rationales behind its proposal to establish 700 hotspots across Taiwan: one involves procuring products from existing OneWeb suppliers, while the other entails domestic production. In essence, Taiwanese equipment must meet OneWeb's testing standards to secure a spot on the approval list. Subsequently, OneWeb will tailor its orders based on customer demands, providing Taiwanese satellite communication services the opportunity to prioritize domestic offerings.

Upon receiving OneWeb's approval, residents can request UT devices tailored to their needs, be it Thai or Taiwanese versions. OneWeb will furnish a certified list for customers to select from, with certain components, such as modems, being replaceable.

However, the precise contours of the testing regime remain ambiguous. The extent of requirements, whether centered on signal reception or comprehensive connectivity, diverges markedly.

Certain Taiwanese firms purport to have attained certification post-testing in France, albeit potentially restricted to signal reception capabilities. Achieving full connectivity, necessitating seamless interaction with modems poses a more formidable challenge. It's worth noting that OneWeb's modems are sourced from Hughes, collaboration with Hughes is indispensable.

In the present landscape, Taiwanese manufacturers achieving test clearance merely opens the door to potential supply chain integration. The true milestone lies in securing orders. For Taiwanese entities, governmental collaboration with OneWeb fosters avenues for enhanced cooperation. The envisaged establishment of a testing center in Taiwan constitutes a pivotal juncture, promising substantial inroads for local manufacturers into the OneWeb supply chain.