OneWeb founder self-funds project to develop antenna for user terminals costing $15

 OneWeb founder Greg Wyler says a self-funded side project of his has developed an antenna module costing $15, paving the way for user terminals priced between $200 and $300.

Wyler, in an interview, said he invested just under $10 million into Wafer LLC, a Danvers, Massachusetts-based company that has created a prototype antenna. After three to four years of effort and more than 500 iterations, the antenna could be commercially available as soon as 2020, he said.

Wyler said Wafer has focused on industrialization of its antenna technology, with an eye towards manufacturability ‘at consumer electronics scale.’

 “In order to meet market needs for emerging markets, in the large scale consumer markets, you need to be between $200 and $300 — in the box and delivered to the customer,” he said. “That’s a price point all in, everything done.”

That definition does not apply to smaller markets, like aviation, he said. Aviation terminals are more expensive because of lengthy certification procedures and modifications needed to ensure they work in harsh environments.

Wyler said the Wafer antenna is designed first to work in Ku-band — the same frequency as OneWeb’s first satellites — but could also work in Ka-, X-, V- and other bands with little change in cost.

Wyler said the antennas work with satellites regardless of orbit.