OneWeb, a low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellite company, and a unit of Hughes Network Systems said on Thursday they signed an agreement to provide connectivity to towns, villages, and local and regional municipalities in hardest-to-reach areas of India.
The arrangement between OneWeb and Hughes Communications India would service areas outside the reach of fibre-optic connectivity, OneWeb said.
The deal comes as OneWeb has launched more than 60% of its LEO fleet that will deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity.
Along with Elon Musk’s Starlink, OneWeb is at the forefront of a rapidly emerging market for internet and other services from cheaper, lower-flying satellites.
India’s Bharti Global, owned by billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal, who is also executive chair of telecoms company Bharti Airtel, is the biggest shareholder in OneWeb.
$500m Cash Injection
In June 2021, Bharti Global injected $500 million into the space-based internet company, enabling it to deploy LEO satellites to deliver broadband services around the globe.
In 2020, Bharti and the UK government bid $1 billion to rescue OneWeb out of bankruptcy.
OneWeb’s most recent satellite launch in December 2021 brought its total in-orbit satellites to 394, more than 60% of its planned 648 LEO satellite fleet.
It plans to start global service by the end of 2022. Last August, South Korea’s Hanwha bought an 8.8% stake in OneWeb, the Financial Times reported.
Clients for its low-latency, high-speed connectivity services include telecoms providers, aviation and maritime markets, ISPs, and governments worldwide, OneWeb said.
“OneWeb will invest in setting up enabling infrastructure such as gateways and [points of presence] in India to light up the services,” Neil Masterson, OneWeb CEO, said.
- George Russell