BT in new distribution partner agreement with OneWeb for LEO satellite connectivity

BT has announced a new distribution partner agreement with OneWeb for LEO satellite network and connectivity services. The agreement covers BT’s global footprint and supports the UK government’s National Space Strategy.

OneWeb will provide LEO satellite communication services across BT Group’s Global, Enterprise and Consumer divisions. The new agreement expands a MoU signed between the companies in July 2021. BT will test how LEO satellite technology can be integrated with its existing terrestrial capabilities to meet the communications needs of consumer and business customers. Once the network integration tests are completed successfully, BT expects to start live trials with customers in early-2022.

BT will test capabilities at its Bristol lab to show how LEO solutions can integrate with existing services. Due to the current capacity levels of OneWeb satellites, this will focus on the role of LEO as a supplementary, low latency backhaul solution to sites needing extra capacity or a back-up solution, as well as to provide business customers with improved resilience. Once the tests are complete, BT will start early adopter trials with UK and international customers. As the capacity of the OneWeb system expands, the future use cases could extend to include the use of satellite for IoT backhaul and fixed wireless access (FWA) in rural areas.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “I am thrilled to see the UK at the forefront of this emerging technology thanks to the Government’s investment in OneWeb – a crucial part of our plans to cement our status as a global science and technology superpower.”

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “The agreement between OneWeb and BT will help bring fast and reliable global connectivity, from the Highlands to the Himalayas. I’m delighted these two British companies have joined forces to research the technological benefits of working together, and I look forward to exploring how this could play a role in our mission to put hard-to-reach areas in the digital fast lane.”

Philip Jansen, Chief Executive of BT Group, 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.”

OneWeb’s Chief Executive Officer Neil Masterson said: “BT has taken the lead in the recognition of LEO satellite’s advantage.  We are delighted as this agreement with BT Group represents an important strategic partnership for OneWeb as we continue to make progress towards our operational launch. We are excited to be playing such a key role in improving the resilience of the overall telecom infrastructure in the UK. OneWeb’s connectivity platform will help bridge the last digital divides across the country and enhance the nation’s digital infrastructure.”

OneWeb is expected to deliver global coverage by June 2022 through a constellation of 648 LEO satellites and is poised to deliver services from the North Pole to the 50th parallel, covering the entire United Kingdom, later this year. The new partnership supports BT’s wider network ambition, set out in July this year, to deliver digital solutions across the entire UK by 2028, through a combination of an expanded network and ‘on demand,’ requestable solutions anywhere beyond. In building a converged, software-defined network, BT will leverage and integrate both terrestrial and non-terrestrial technologies to deliver on the goal of seamless, ubiquitous connectivity.

This agreement marks a clear path towards the first LEO solutions being available for customers within a year. As the 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 will begin early adopter trials for UK and international customers, expected early next year. As OneWeb grows their 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 in rural areas.

The work with OneWeb shows the capabilities being developed by UK businesses in the pioneering area of space technology and follows the UK Government’s recently published National Space Strategy, which recognizes the enormous strategic opportunities on offer. BT, which boasts a heritage of nearly 60 years in space and satellite communication innovation, continues to explore a diverse range of partners across all its services, including space, to ensure the latest and best connectivity solutions are available for customers.

*The deal encompasses BT’s Enterprise, Consumer and Global units, serving UK and multinational organizations.

References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/bt-secures-industry-first-global-partnership-with-oneweb-301413630.html

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/09/08/att-and-oneweb-satellite-access-for-business-in-remote-u-s-areas/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/07/02/oneweb-launches-36-leo-satellites-254-in-orbit-funding-deals-uk-coverage-too/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/04/27/oneweb-receives-investment-from-eutelsat-communications-leo-satellite-constellation-for-global-internet-service/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/01/16/oneweb-secures-additional-funding-for-648-total-satellites-for-broadband-connectivity/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2020/12/10/revitalized-oneweb-challenges-spacex-starlink-amazon-kuiper-for-broadband-satellite-service/

Video clip about OneWeb satellites

AT&T and OneWeb: Satellite Access for Business in Remote U.S. Areas

AT&T Communications has signed a strategic agreement with OneWeb, the low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications company, to harness the capabilities of satellite technology to improve access for AT&T business customers into remote and challenging  geographic locations. The new connectivity will complement existing AT&T access technologies.

Why is this important? AT&T’s leading business fiber network enables high-speed connections to over 2.5 million U.S. business customer locations. Nationwide, more than 9 million business customer locations are within 1,000 feet of AT&T fiber.  However, there are still remote areas that existing networks can’t reach with the high-speed, low-latency broadband essential to business operations.

Who can use this: AT&T will use this technology to enhance connectivity when connecting to its enterprise, small and medium-sized business and government customers as well as hard-to-reach cell towers.

Where will it work: AT&T says that more than 9 million business customer locations are within 1,000 feet of its fiber network, but that there are remote areas that remain out of reach. By riding OneWeb’s LEO-based broadband satellite constellation, AT&T believes it will be able to deliver high-speed, low-latency services to small, medium and enterprise-sized business customers in those locations.

The AT&T service will be supported by OneWeb’s network of satellites. OneWeb has launched 288 satellites and expects to attain global coverage with a total fleet of 648 satellites by the end of 2022. AT&T business and government customers in Alaska and northern U.S. states will be covered later this year.

Image source: Roscosmos, Space-Center-Vostochny and TsENKi

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What are people saying:

“Working with OneWeb, we’ll be able to enhance high-speed connectivity in places that we don’t serve today and meet our customers wherever they are,” said Scott Mair, President, Network Engineering and Operations, AT&T. “We’re expanding our network with one more option to help ensure that our business customers have the high-speed, low-latency connectivity they need to thrive as the nation recovers from COVID-19.”

“OneWeb’s enterprise-grade network has a unique capability to serve hard-to-reach businesses and communities. Our work with AT&T will focus on how satellite technology can support improved capacity and coverage in remote, rural and challenging geographic locations,” said Neil Masterson,  OneWeb Chief Executive Officer. “Today’s agreement with AT&T demonstrates OneWeb’s execution momentum and the confidence customers such as AT&T have in its services and offering.”

About OneWeb:

OneWeb is a global communications network powered from space, headquartered in London, enabling connectivity for governments, businesses, and communities. It is implementing a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites with a network of global gateway stations and a range of user terminals to provide an affordable, fast, high-bandwidth and low-latency communications service, connected to the IoT future and a pathway to 5G for everyone, everywhere. Find out more at http://www.oneweb.world

Light Reading – Satellite Internet Competition:

OneWeb’s win with AT&T also surfaces amid growing competition in the satellite broadband sector.

Enterprise and business customers are among the targets for Viasat, which is in the process of providing global coverage with a growing fleet of high-power geosynchronous (GEO) satellites. SES also focuses on the business and government services market, and intends to hit those markets harder as it moves ahead with O3b mPower, a new global connectivity platform that will ultimately comprise a constellation of 11 medium Earth-orbit (MEO) satellites. Starlink, SpaceX’s LEO-based satellite broadband service, has largely focused on the home broadband market, but has hinted at ambitions to serve connectivity to planes, trucks and other moving vehicles.

OneWeb recently landed a $300 million investment from South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Systems, which secured an 8.8% stake in OneWeb and a board seat. Other investors include India’s Bharti Airtel (35% stake), the UK government (almost 20%), and Japan’s SoftBank Group, France’s Eutelsat and Hughes Network Systems.

Earlier this month, OneWeb inked a $1 billion-plus insurance agreement through broker/risk advisor Marsh as it prepares for its next phase of deployments.

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About AT&T Communications:

AT&T helps family, friends and neighbors connect in meaningful ways every day. From the first phone call 140+ years ago to mobile video streaming, we @ATT innovate to improve lives. AT&T Communications is part of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T). For more information, please visit us at att.com

References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/att-and-oneweb-plan-satellite-access-for-business-in-remote-areas-across-the-us-301371306.html

https://www.lightreading.com/satellite/atandt-will-tap-into-onewebs-satellite-network-to-reach-remote-areas-/a/d-id/771944?

OneWeb receives investment from Eutelsat Communications; LEO satellite constellation for global internet service

OneWeb, the satellite communications network provider [1.], announced today that it has secured $550 million in funding from Eutelsat Communications (one of the world’s leading satellite operators). That brings OneWeb’s total funding to $1.9 billion in fresh equity since it emerged from bankruptcy.

Note 1.  OneWeb is a global communications network powered by a constellation of 650 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. Headquartered in London, OneWeb is enabling high-speed, low latency connectivity for governments, businesses, and communities everywhere around the world. OneWeb’s satellites, together with a network of global gateway stations and a range of User Terminals, will provide an affordable, fast, high bandwidth, low-latency communications service connected to the IoT future, and a pathway to 5G for everyone, everywhere.

This investment is a vote of confidence in OneWeb and underscores the arrival of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites into mainstream long-term growth planning for major operators.

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OneWeb’s 648 LEO satellite fleet will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity. It’s partnership with Eutelsat, a global geostationary satellite operator, will enhance both companies’ commercial potential, leveraging Eutelsat’s established commercial reach to governments and enterprise customers in addition to its strong institutional relationships, recognized technical expertise and global fleet.

OneWeb’s ability to address multiple applications requiring low latency and ubiquity will also allow both companies to explore GEO/LEO configurations for future service integrations and packages.

OneWeb’s mission is to deliver broadband connectivity worldwide to its customers, to bridge the global digital divide by offering data connectivity, facilitating linkage to the Internet of Things (IoT) future and a pathway to 5G. OneWeb’s LEO satellite system includes a network of global gateway stations and a range of user terminals for different customer markets capable of delivering affordable, fast, high-bandwidth and low-latency communications services.

Yesterday, OneWeb successfully launched another 36 satellites into its constellation bringing the system to 182 satellites. The company has only two more launches left in its ‘Five to 50’ programme that will cement the company’s ability to start connectivity services to the United KingdomAlaskaNorthern EuropeGreenlandIceland, the Artic Seas and Canada, with global service available next year.

After OneWeb completes the full deployment of the constellation, the company anticipates annual revenues of approximately $1 billion in year three or soon thereafter, thanks to its partnership driven, wholesale business plan.

OneWeb Mini-satellite Constellation for Global Internet Service

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Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises said: “We are delighted to welcome Eutelsat into the OneWeb family.

“As an open multi-national business, we are committed to serving the global needs of governments, businesses and communities across the world. Together we are stronger, benefitting from the entrepreneurial energy of Bharti, the extensive global outreach of the UK Government and the expertise in the satellite industry at Eutelsat. OneWeb, with its innovative and disruptive approach, is poised to take a leading position in LEO broadband connectivity.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Today’s investment is another giant leap forward for OneWeb in realising their ambition to provide global broadband connectivity around the globe.

“Eutelsat brings over forty years of experience in the global satellite industry and this exciting new partnership puts OneWeb on a strong commercial footing, and the UK at the forefront of the latest developments in low Earth orbit technology.

“This comes alongside yesterday’s exciting news that a further 36 satellites were launched into space and demonstrates the momentum behind OneWeb and the promising efforts to provide connectivity to some of the world’s most remote places.”

Neil Masterson, Chief Executive Officer of OneWeb, said: “We are delighted with the investment from Eutelsat, which validates our strategy, technology and commercial approach. We now have 80% of the necessary financing for the Gen 1 fleet, of which nearly 30% is already in space. Eutelsat’s global distribution network advances the market entry opportunities for OneWeb and we look forward to working together to capitalise on the growth opportunity and accelerate the pace of execution.”

Commenting on the agreement, Rodolphe Belmer, Eutelsat’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are excited to become a shareholder and partner in OneWeb in the run up to its commercial launch later in the year and to participate in the substantial opportunity represented by the LEO segment within our industry. We are confident in OneWeb’s right-to-win thanks to its earliness to market, priority spectrum rights and evolving, scalable technology. With over 40 years’ expertise in the global satellite industry, we look forward to working alongside the UK Government, Bharti and the other shareholders to open new opportunities and market access to ensure OneWeb maximizes its potential.”

Editor’s Notes:

  • OneWeb, based in the UK, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of March 2020 after failing to secure $2 billion financing from lead shareholder SoftBank.
  • In January, Japan’s SoftBank Group and Hughes Network Systems LLC had invested $400 million in OneWeb.
  • The UK government and Bharti Global invested $500 million each to acquire OneWeb under a bankruptcy resolution process.
  • OneWeb plans to start high-speed internet services in India by mid-2022.
  • In November, Mittal told Mint that OneWeb will boost rural broadband connectivity in India and other developing countries, including those in Africa.
  • For 5G wireless service, satellite network could play an important role as it will reach areas where fiber and radio airwaves cannot penetrate.  However, there are no standards for satellite based 5G networks (IMT 2020 and 3GPP specs are for terrestrial wireless operation).
  • Also, the cost of using a satellite network is the highest among the three mediums, and thus, fiber and terrestrial wireless spectrum will be the preferred modes of transmission of data wherever they will be available, he added.

References:

https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/oneweb-secures-550-million-in-new-funding-eutelsat-to-take-significant-equity-stake-in-the-company-863239352.html

https://www.livemint.com/companies/news/eutelsat-communications-invests-550-million-in-oneweb-11619542837285.html

 

OneWeb secures additional funding with goal of 648 total satellites for broadband connectivity by end 2022

OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company that’s emerged from bankruptcy is jointly owned by the UK Government and Bharti Global.  The company today announced that it has secured additional funding from SoftBank Group Corp. (“SoftBank”) and Hughes Network Systems LLC (“Hughes”), bringing OneWeb’s total funding to $1.4 billion. The capital raised to date positions the Company to be fully funded for its first-generation satellite fleet, totaling 648 satellites, by the end of 2022.

Prior to the latest funding round, the UK government and Bharti Global held 42.2% stake, respectively in OneWeb with other partners holding the balance 15.6%.  “The capital raised to date positions the company to be fully funded for its first-generation satellite fleet, totaling 648 satellites, by the end of 2022,” as per a statement released by OneWeb.

Currently, satellite internet is a great option for residents of rural or suburban areas. Along with basically unlimited availability, satellite internet also offers Wi-Fi connectivity and speeds fast enough for streaming services.  In addition to OneWeb, Starlink/SpaceX, Kuiper/Amazon, Boeing and Telesat are investing heavily into LEO satellites, aiming to launch thousands of low-orbiting satellites in coming years.

OneWeb’s mission is to deliver broadband connectivity worldwide to bridge the global Digital Divide by offering everyone, everywhere access including to the Internet of Things (IoT) future and a pathway to 5G.

OneWeb’s LEO satellite system includes a network of global gateway stations and a range of user terminals for different customer markets capable of delivering affordable, fast, high-bandwidth and low-latency communications services. In December 2020, OneWeb launched 36 new satellites, built at its Airbus Joint Venture assembly plant in Florida, USA, bringing the Company’s total fleet to 110 satellites, all fully-functioning and benefitting from International Telecommunication Union spectrum priority.

 

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Executive Chairman of OneWeb, commented, “We are delighted to welcome the investment from SoftBank and Hughes. Both are deeply familiar with our business, share our vision for the future, and their commitment allows us to capitalise on the significant growth opportunity ahead for OneWeb. We gain from their experience and capabilities, as we deliver a unique LEO network for the world.”

Secretary of State, BEIS, The Rt. Hon. Kwasi Kwarteng, MP said: “Our investment in OneWeb is part of our continued commitment to the UK’s space sector, putting Britain at the forefront of the latest technological advances. Today’s investment brings the company one step closer to delivering its mission to provide global broadband connectivity for people, businesses and governments, while potentially unlocking new research, development and manufacturing opportunities in the UK.”

Masayoshi Son, Representative Director, Corporate Officer, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank, said, “We are excited to support OneWeb as it increases capacity and accelerates towards commercialisation. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Bharti, the UK Government and Hughes to help OneWeb deliver on its mission to transform internet access around the world.”

Pradman Kaul, President of Hughes, remarked, “OneWeb continues to inspire the industry and attract the best players in the business to come together to bring its LEO constellation to fruition. The investments made today by Hughes and SoftBank will help realise the full potential of OneWeb in connecting enterprise, government and mobility customers, especially with multi-transport services that complement our own geostationary offerings in meeting and accelerating demand for broadband around the world.”

Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb, added “OneWeb’s mission is to connect everyone, everywhere. We have made rapid progress to re-start the business since emerging from Chapter 11 in November. We welcome the investments by SoftBank and Hughes as further proof of progress towards delivering our goal.”

In connection with the investment, SoftBank will gain a seat on the OneWeb Board of Directors. Hughes is an investor through its parent company EchoStar, and also an ecosystem partner, developing essential ground network technology for the OneWeb system.

Additionally, OneWeb has reduced its request for US market access from 47,884 to 6,372 satellites. Together with the satellites for which it is already licensed by the FCC, the total constellation size will be roughly 7,000, down from the 48,000 or so proposed last year.

According to the company, this solidification of their constellation demonstrates the commitment and vision of OneWeb’s new owners, the UK Government and Bharti Global, who are dedicated to deploying a cost effective, responsible, and groundbreaking satellite network to deliver global broadband.

The firm stated that OneWeb remains focused on launching its first-generation system of 648 satellites and is on track to start regional commercial services within a year. This streamlining of activities highlights OneWeb’s plan for global connectivity services and for future generations and possibilities for the network.

About OneWeb:

OneWeb is a global communications network powered from space, headquartered in London, enabling connectivity for governments, businesses, and communities. It is implementing a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites with a network of global gateway stations and a range of user terminals to provide an affordable, fast, high-bandwidth and low-latency communications service, connected to the IoT future and a pathway to 5G for everyone, everywhere. Find out more at http://www.oneweb.world

References:

 

OneWeb Gathers Additional Funding, Bringing Total To $1.4 Billion + Reduces Size Of Their Constellation

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/oneweb-secures-investment-from-softbank-and-hughes-network-systems-301209270.html

 

Revitalized OneWeb challenges SpaceX/Starlink & Amazon/Kuiper for Broadband Satellite Service

Space X and Amazon now have company in what may become a satellite broadband “space war.”  A long distance race involving three of the world’s richest men has just begun!

India tycoon Sunil Mital’s Bharti Airtel plans to invest $2 billion for a 50% stake in the once bankrupt low-Earth orbit satellite constellation company OneWeb and says that company will be offering global broadband services within 18 months in Alaska and the UK.

”By May-June of 2022, which is less than 18 months, OneWeb’s constellation will cover the entire globe, every square inch of this world,” the founder and chairman of Bharti Enterprises said Wednesday at a conference hosted by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union and Saudi Arabian communication regulator CITC.

OneWeb says it will resume launches of its satellites with a Soyuz launch scheduled for Dec. 17 from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. Credit: GK Launch Services

Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets have launched over 500 satellites for the Starlink constellation since OneWeb went into bankruptcy in March.  Starlink is now testing broadband internet service with potential customers.  Unlike OneWeb, Starlink’s service isn’t set to cover the extreme north and south of the planet for now, offering its rival a potential niche serving governments, shipping and aviation in remote regions.

“We welcome competition,” Mittal said. “We fight like hell in the marketplace.” Later generations of OneWeb satellites could provide global positioning capabilities, he added.

OneWeb has put 74 of an initial 648 planned satellites in orbit so far, and plans to resume launches this month. It’s not yet secured all the funding it needs to complete the constellation. Mittal estimated the overall cost at between $5.5 billion and $7 billion and said the remaining shortfall is between $2 billion and $2.5 billion — with half of that to be covered by Bharti and the British government. As for raising further capital with other investors, he said: “I don’t see that to be an issue.”

Global broadband Internet. Satellite constellation development project. Space-based Orbital Internet communication system. Satellites flying in Earth orbit. illustration

On July 30, 2020, the FCC permitted Amazon to build its ambitious satellite internet system, which would compete with SpaceX’s Starlink network.   Amazon’s Kuiper project would involve the launch of 3,236 satellites into low Earth orbit. After the FCC announced the authorization, Amazon said that it “will invest more than $10 billion” into Kuiper.

“There are still too many places where broadband access is unreliable or where it doesn’t exist at all. Kuiper will change that. Our $10 billion investment will create jobs and infrastructure around the United States that will help us close this gap,” Amazon senior vice president Dave Limp said in a statement.

Amazon has not outlined a timeline for Kuiper and the FCC said the company has not finished the satellites’ design.

References:

https://www.oneweb.world/

https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2020-12-09/musk-rival-mittal-targets-global-satellite-broadband-by-mid-2022

https://spacenews.com/oneweb-emerges-from-chapter-11-with-new-ceo/

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/30/fcc-authorizes-amazon-to-build-kuiper-satellite-internet-network.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathanocallaghan/2020/07/31/amazon-is-going-to-add-3000-more-satellites-into-earths-orbit–and-people-are-not-happy/?sh=5463659c7628

https://www.zdnet.com/article/amazon-vs-elon-musks-spacex-bezos-internet-from-space-plan-moves-a-step-closer/