Saudi Arabia and OneWeb signed USD 200 million network joint venture
Venture Announcement for Connectivity
TAMPA, FLORIDA – OneWeb, a satellite broadband startup, has announced a $200 million joint venture with a business funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. The venture aimed at giving exclusive rights to distribute the network’s capacity in specific Middle Eastern locations.
On Oct. 26, OneWeb announced that it is teaming up with NEOM Tech & Digital Holding Company, a Saudi Arabian company. Their goal is to establish a planned contemporary city and tourist destination in the country’s northwest region.
The OneWeb cooperation is part of NEOM’s objective to obtain tens of terabytes of scalable capacity by 2030. This will aid the region’s ability to attract urban and rural enterprises and communities. In addition to OneWeb’s low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, the approach includes the building of subsea and terrestrial communications cables, 5G cellular towers, and fiber networks.
Under a seven-year arrangement, NEOM will pay $170 million to OneWeb for satellite capacity.
The holding company is also investing $30 million in a joint venture with OneWeb to resell capacity in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, and East African countries.
Introducing Commercial Services
OneWeb expects to launch commercial services in the upper Northern Hemisphere this year, with global services following in 2022. Before this, more than half of its 648-strong satellite constellation has been deployed.
OneWeb, on the other hand, anticipates starting its deal with NEOM to solely distribute its services in target territories in 2023.
“This arrangement includes a base station in Neom, so the timing reflects the requirement to build that,” a OneWeb representative stated via email. “However, we will begin worldwide services in 2022.”
OneWeb claims to be the second-largest LEO operator in the world, with 348 spacecraft, and the only one licensed in Saudi Arabia.
With almost 1,600 satellites in orbit, SpaceX’s Starlink broadband network is now the largest in LEO.
Specific Reasons for Collaboration
OneWeb said its partnership with NEOM builds on a 2017 agreement it made with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT). The reason for collaboration was to bring on solutions of internet access more large number of residences across the kingdom.
In addition to the location and navigation capabilities that OneWeb is exploring for the UK government, NEOM will help test and develop satellite-based cybersecurity solutions as a key part of the joint venture launched on 26th Oct.
OneWeb is supported by the British government, and the initiative claims that its relationship with NEON would boost ties between Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.