OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications operator part-owned by the UK government, has entered into an agreement with US-based SpaceX to enable it to resume satellite launches. OneWeb had cancelled an existing agreement with Russian space agency RosCosMos following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and stopped launching satellites from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur spaceport, leased to Russia. The first launch with SpaceX is anticipated in 2022 and will add to OneWeb’s total in-orbit constellation that currently stands at 428 satellites, or two-thirds of its full planned fleet. OneWeb has so far activated its network for remote parts of the globe above 50 degrees north, with early partners already initiating services.
OneWeb has meanwhile sealed a multi-year global Distribution Partnership Agreement (DPA) under which its second largest investor, French-backed geostationary (GEO) satellite operator Eutelsat Communications, will ‘commercialise OneWeb services across key verticals including Maritime, Aviation, Enterprise, Telcos and Government.’
Furthermore, US-based international satellite broadband provider Speedcast also announced the signing of a DPA with OneWeb, as it plans to integrate OneWeb’s LEO satellite connectivity into the Speedcast Unified Global Platform (UGP), bringing LEO services for Speedcast’s energy and enterprise customers in mid-2022 followed by maritime mobility in 2023. LEO joins GEO, Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and 4G/5G as connectivity options on the UGP. Speedcast has also recently been commissioned to develop critical ground infrastructure for OneWeb to support the fleet operator’s Earth Station requirements in parts of Latin America.
In yet another deal this week, it was announced that Australian telecoms group Telstra will build three dedicated teleports across Australia to provide satellite gateway services for OneWeb in the Southern Hemisphere, under a ten-year agreement.
London-based OneWeb’s investors include: India’s Bharti group (USD1 billion investment), Eutelsat (USD715 million, having upped its stake from 17.6% to 22.9% in October 2021), the UK government (USD500 million), Japan’s SoftBank (USD350 million), South Korean electronics firm Hanwha (USD300 million) and US satellite services operator Hughes Network Systems (USD50 million).