BT has announced a partnership with OneWeb for the latter to provide Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communication services across BT Group.
The announcement expands on an initial Memorandum of Understanding signed in July, and will see BT test how LEO satellite technology integrates with its existing terrestrial capabilities.
BT said that live trials will be tested with customers in early 2022 and, if successful, will provide the UK market with additional connectivity solutions.
OneWeb is targeting global coverage by June 2022 through 648 LEO satellites, with the company poised to deliver services from the North Pole to the 50th parallel later this year.
Ultimately, the OneWeb satellite 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. BT however did note that as OneWeb grows its capacity, future use cases could be explored including for IoT backhaul and Fixed Wireless Access in rural areas.
Philip Jansen, CEO 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 CEO 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.”
The news was commented on by recently appointed Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries, who 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.”
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