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Bharti’s OneWeb, Hughes merge to offer satellite broadband services

OneWeb, funded by the Bharti Group, and Hughes Network Systems, a satellite service provider, have signed a strategic six-year distribution agreement to provide satellite broadband services across India, according to a joint statement released on Thursday.

Hughes Communications India Private Ltd, a joint venture between Hughes and Bharti Airtel, will offer the services in India.

The deal comes after the firms inked a memorandum of understanding in September 2021.

“This announcement marks a turning point for Digital India. Enterprise and government customers, including telecom service providers, banks, factories, schools, defense organizations, domestic airlines, and offshore vessel operators, eagerly anticipate 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, increased the company’s total number of in-orbit satellites to 394, accounting for more than 60% of the projected 648 LEO satellite fleet. 

It expects to launch a global service by the end of 2022, as demand for its low-latency, high-speed connectivity services from telecoms providers, aviation and maritime sectors, ISPs, and governments worldwide continue to grow.

“OneWeb is delighted to partner with 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, airline companies and maritime customers. OneWeb will invest in setting up enabling infrastructure such as Gateways and PoPs (points of presence) in India to light up the services,” OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said.

Hughes owns a stake in OneWeb through its parent company EchoStar. It’s also a OneWeb ecosystem partner, developing gateway electronics – especially for Gujarat and Tamil Nadu users – and the system’s core module, which will power every user terminal.

According to the statement, Hughes is also the prime contractor on a partnership with the US Air Force Research Lab to integrate and demonstrate managed LEO SATCOM employing OneWeb capacity in the Arctic.

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