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OneWeb to Bring Low-Earth-Orbit Satellite Service to India

Landmark deal comes as OneWeb has launched more than 60% of its LEO fleet that will deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity


A spacecraft packed with OneWeb satellites waits in an assembly and testing facility at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia. Photo: Roscosmos via Reuters.

 

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

 

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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