OneWeb has secured a $25 million investment and major contract with Intelsat covering OneWeb's plan to deploy a global low-earth orbit (LEO) Ku-band satellite constellation.
Under the agreement, Intelsat will use OneWeb's LEO platform, once launched, to complement its geostationary orbit satellite services.
OneWeb has agreed to develop its platform to provide interoperability with Intelsat's geostationary obit infrastructure and services. This will allow the company to overcome an operational hurdle with LEO platforms by coordinating the provision of services over equatorial regions.
Intelsat will meanwhile invest $25 million for a minority share in OneWeb, and both companies have agreed to collaborate to develop hybrid low-earth and geostationary orbit end-user access terminals.
“By complementing our GEO services with LEO services, we will be able to provide connectivity over the Earth’s poles and in urban canyons, coverage that is important for certain mobility applications, including automotive services,” IntelsatCEO Steven Spengler commented.
“In collaborating on Ku-band access hardware, we will develop technologies with additional scale that will simplify access, reduce costs and open new addressable markets.”
OneWeb's initial LEO constellation will consist of more than 600 satellites, making it the largest constellation in orbit.
Activity surrounding internet provision LEO satellites has been picking up steam, after being all but abandoned after the mid-1990s. OneWeb itself recently signed a deal with Airbus Defence and Space to deliver 900 mini-satevide global bllites that will proroadband internet access by 2018.
SpaceX has meanwhile filed a plan to deploy a LEOsat sysem comprising 4,000 small satellites, and LeoSat LLC and Thales Alenia Space are conducting a feasibility study on a proposed constellation of 120-140 high-power LEOsats.