Bharti Enterprises and UK government owned OneWeb, on Thursday said it is partnering with Hughes Network Systems LLC (Hughes), as a distribution partner for six years, to provide low earth orbit (LEO) connectivity services across India.

Hughes has been an innovator in satellite and multi-transport technologies and networks for 50 years. The arrangement between OneWeb and Hughes Communications India (HCIPL), a joint venture between Hughes and Bharti Airtel Limited (Airtel) follows the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the companies in September 2021.

As the leading satellite broadband provider in India, HCIPL is well positioned to deliver services to enterprise and government with OneWeb capacity, especially in areas outside the reach of fiber connectivity, Bharti said in a statement.

Bridging digital divide

OneWeb will connect towns, villages, and local and regional municipalities in those hardest-to-reach areas, playing a critical role in bridging the digital divide, it said.

“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 in India to light up the services,” Neil Masterson, Chief Executive Officer, OneWeb, said.

Hughes, through its parent company EchoStar, is a longstanding and supportive OneWeb shareholder. 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.

OneWeb’s most recent satellite launch on December 27 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. Service offerings under this agreement are subject to all appropriate regulatory approvals and licenses, the company said.

“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,” Partho Banerjee, President and Managing Director, HCIPL, said.