BT Group and OneWeb have agreed terms for a new Distribution Partner Agreement under which the latter will provide Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communication services for the telco. In a press release the companies noted the development builds on an initial Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in July this year and means BT will test how LEO satellite technology integrates with its existing terrestrial capabilities to meet the communications needs of customers.
With the agreement said to mark ‘a clear path towards the first LEO solution being available for customers within a year’, as a next step BT will test capabilities in its Bristol lab to demonstrate how they integrate with existing services. Current capacity levels within OneWeb satellites mean initial trials will focus on its role as a supplementary, low-latency backhaul solution to sites where additional capacity or a back-up solution is required, and to deliver improved resilience for business customers. On successful completion, BT has indicated it will begin early adopter trials for UK and international customers early next year. Meanwhile, it has been suggested that as OneWeb grows its capacity, the list of future use cases could also widen, opening up the opportunity to explore the use of satellite for IoT backhaul and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) in rural areas.
According to BT, the new partnership supports its wider network ambition, set out in July 2021, to deliver digital solutions across the entire UK by 2028, through a combination of an expanded network and ‘on demand,’ requestable solutions. Commenting on the matter, BT Group CEO Philip Jansen said: ‘Space is an emerging and enormous digital opportunity, and this is an important step towards harnessing its potential for BT’s customers across the globe. We will put OneWeb’s technology through its paces in our UK labs with the goal of delivering live trials in early 2022. Delivered securely and at scale, satellite solutions will be an important part of our plans to expand connectivity throughout the UK and globally, and to further diversify the range of services we can offer our customers.’