Earlier today, Wednesday 28 June, Minister for Treasury, Infrastructure and Sustainable Development, Mark Brooks, announced the signing of a lease between SHG and OneWeb. The announcement was made during Minister Brook’s 2023/24 budget speech to the Legislative Council.


The lease will allow OneWeb to develop an earth station at Horse Point, in the area designated for St Helena’s Space Park. OneWeb will now be working with their local agent, Sure South Atlantic, to develop and build the earth station.


The establishment of the earth station is closely aligned with SHG’s key strategic policy goals, including the Satellite Ground Station Policy, Sustainable Economic Development Plan 2018-29, the Ten-Year Plan 2017-27, the Investment Policy and Strategy and the Digital Strategy.


The development of the earth station represents a significant economic opportunity to the Island through the creation of financial opportunities throughout the lifespan of the development. It will generate direct income for the government through the lease and licencing arrangements, money that can be invested back into delivering public services and improving living standards for all, as well as offsetting the costs associated with running the Island’s fibre cable link. It will also make a contribution to wider Island economy through construction, maintenance and operational activities throughout its lifespan, whilst at the same time creating job opportunities for the local population.


By locating an earth station on St Helena, OneWeb will be able to interconnect their satellite network to the world’s fibre network, via the Island’s cable landing station. All associated traffic will be transmitted off-Island through Google’s Equiano subsea cable.


The implementation of this critical and key facility will improve telecoms coverage across the southernmost remote parts of the South Atlantic Ocean via OneWeb’s platform. This will contribute to closing the digital divide within the South Atlantic Ocean, including Tristan da Cunha and Ascension, and will improve travel experience and safety of navigation for aircraft and vessels. Maritime and aviation safety will also be greatly enhanced following the establishment of the gateway.


On the signing of the lease, Minister Brooks said:


“This is the first realisation of SHG’s Satellite Ground Station Policy, published back in 2020, and is the first of what we hope will be many such firms that choose to come to St Helena to do business. This shows that taking a strategic approach to issues and making sure that appropriate structures are in place for the private sector to build on, our enabling environment, does deliver results in the long run. OneWeb will now be working with their local agent to complete the build of the station and begin operations.”


A ground station is a terminal that allows extraplanetary communication with satellites or space craft. Earth Stations are viewed as a collection of equipment installed on the earth’s surface that enables communications over one or more satellites. Earth stations consist of a reflector antenna (or parabolic dish), a feed system to send and receive the RF carrier, data handling equipment and mechanical tracking equipment to keep the satellite within the antenna’s data send/receive area.


OneWeb’s proposed earth station will allow telecommunication with spacecraft including, OneWeb’s constellation of more than 600 plus Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, which aims to provide global broadband coverage.


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