Bharti Group-backed company OneWeb and satellite service provider Hughes Network Systems have signed a strategic six-year distribution agreement to provide satellite broadband services across India, a joint statement said on Thursday.
The services in India will be provided by Hughes and Bharti Airtel joint venture Hughes Communications. The agreement follows a memorandum of understanding signed by the companies in September 2021.
“This announcement marks a turning point for Digital India. Enterprise and government customers, including telecom service providers, banks, factories, schools, defence organisations, domestic airlines, and offshore vessel operators, are eagerly anticipating the arrival of new high performing Satcom services. We look forward to bringing them high-speed, low-latency services from HCIPL, using OneWeb capacity,” HCIPL president and managing director Partho Banerjee said.
OneWeb’s most recent satellite launch on December 27, 2021 brought its total in-orbit satellites to 394, over 60 per cent of the planned 648 LEO satellite fleet. It plans to commence global service by the end of 2022 as demand continues from telecommunications providers, aviation and maritime markets, ISPs, and governments worldwide for its low-latency, high-speed connectivity services.
“OneWeb is delighted to partner Hughes to offer high-speed, low-latency satellite broadband solutions. OneWeb’s constellation will cover the length and breadth of India, from Ladakh to Kanyakumari and from Gujarat to the NorthEast and bring secure solutions to enterprises, governments, telcos, airlines and maritime customers. OneWeb will invest in setting up infrastructure such as Gateways and PoPs (points of presence) in India to light up the services,” OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said.
Hughes, through its parent company EchoStar, is a shareholder in OneWeb. It is also an ecosystem partner to OneWeb, developing gateway electronics including for those in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu and the core module that will power every user terminal for the system. Hughes is also the prime contractor on an agreement with the US Air Force Research Lab to integrate and demonstrate managed LEO SATCOM using OneWeb capacity in the Arctic region, the statement said.