Intelsat and OneWeb partnership brings multi-orbit connectivity to airlines worldwide
UK backed satellite communications company OneWeb and U.S. based Intelsat have signed a global distribution partnership agreement to offer airlines a seamless inflight connectivity (IFC) solution with the best combination of performance, coverage and reliability on the market. The partnership enables Intelsat to distribute OneWeb’s ground-breaking low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite services to airlines worldwide, coupled with Intelsat’s extensive IFC experience and existing geo-stationary (GEO) satellite service. The result is a truly multi-orbit solution for the aviation community, leveraging the benefits of both networks.
By harnessing the power of multi-orbit capabilities, Intelsat will ensure airlines and their passengers are able to enjoy the best IFC, without compromise. Airlines and their passengers will no longer have to accept significant gaps in IFC coverage or capacity – even at busy hubs, across oceans and over polar routes. Intelsat will seamlessly manage connectivity, allowing passengers to remain connected no matter where they are. The companies expect the multi-orbit solution to be in service by 2024.
“This level of connectivity will enable airlines to maximise brand affiliation with passengers through all their onboard services – delivering a truly connected end-to-end passenger journey,” said Jeff Sare, Intelsat’s President, Commercial Aviation. “The hybrid service offering further allows the global airline community to plan their suite of next-generation onboard services with confidence – not only ensuring a future-proofed passenger inflight connectivity experience, but also the implementation of a connected airline digitalisation strategy.”
“This is a watershed moment for the inflight connectivity market, and we’re excited to work together with Intelsat to bring our multi-orbit solution to commercial aviation. We’re committed to delivering the most differentiated and innovative solution for airlines,” said Ben Griffin, OneWeb Vice President, Mobility Services. “We are proving that, through the power of partnership, a superior suite of multi-orbit capabilities can be offered to better serve the growing connectivity needs of the commercial aviation industry, delivering the highest value coupled with the lowest risk.”
Intelsat and OneWeb have previous history: in 2015, Intelsat engaged in a $500 million round of funding in the then satellite communications startup. Much has changed since that time, with both satellite providers subsequently filing for bankruptcy. OneWeb emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020, while Intelsat only formally emerged from its bankruptcy earlier in 2022. Meanwhile, the two partners are also apparently pursuing mergers with other companies.
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10 January 2022 Update:
OneWeb confirms successful deployment of 40 satellites launched with SpaceX
This launch is OneWeb’s 16th to-date, with only two more launches remaining to complete its first-generation constellation enabling global connectivity in 2023.
Lift-off took place on Sunday, 9 January 2023 at 11:50 p.m. ET (local). OneWeb’s satellites separated successfully from the rocket and were dispensed in three phases over a period of 1 hour and 35 minutes, with signal acquisition on all 40 satellites confirmed.
With 542 satellites now in orbit, OneWeb has more than 80% of its first-generation constellation launched. With this launch, OneWeb kicks-off its ‘Countdown to Global Connectivity’ campaign marking the final launches remaining to complete its first-generation LEO satellite constellation that will offer high-speed, low-latency connectivity solutions.
OneWeb has connectivity solutions active today with its distribution partners in Alaska, Canada, the UK, Greenland and wider Arctic area, with expanded services coming online soon across the U.S, southern Europe, Australia, Middle East and more. With each new area covered, OneWeb and its partners can provide internet connectivity to a greater number of unserved and underserved rural and remote communities and businesses.
Neil Masterson, Chief Executive Officer of OneWeb, commented: “Today’s launch is a thrilling way to start 2023 and at OneWeb, this launch brings us even closer to completing our constellation and launching connectivity services around the world. OneWeb believes that connection everywhere changes everything and each of these launches provides us with more capacity to help our partners connect communities, businesses, and governments around the world. I want to thank SpaceX for their continued support, which has now brought about two successful launches. Every launch is a team effort, and we are grateful to everyone who makes these incredible moments possible.”