Japanese operator SoftBank, which owns a majority stake in
Sprint, will be marketing wholesale satellite backhaul services
to mobile companies worldwide.
The role follows SoftBank’s $1 billion investment in the OneWeb
satellite project in December 2016, part of a $1.2 billion
OneWeb, whose other backers include Qualcomm, Airbus, Bharti
Enterprises, Hughes Network Systems, Intelsat and Virgin, will be a low-earth
orbit network of 720 tiny satellites that will connect new base
stations in remote areas with very low latency.
"The entry of SoftBank was a very important step for us,"
OneWeb CEO Eric Béranger told Global Telecoms
Business in an interview. "SoftBank will want to
market our services to every part of the world." The full
interview will be published in the next issue of the
Discussions have already started with possible partners in the
mobile industry. OneWeb will supply terminals that will have
deliver mobile and Wifi signals in the immediate area and
connect with the company’s satellites 1200km above
the earth – a distance that means round-trip latency
of only 8ms.
The focus will be on remote and unconnected areas, said
Béranger. "There are 55 million US citizens who are
unconnected, and 61% of Asia and the Pacific are unconnected or
badly connected." But OneWeb will also be able to provide
connections to ships and aircraft.
The first 10 OneWeb satellites are due for launch in early
2018, with the whole fleet of 720 due to be in service by the
end of 2019.
Read on: GlobalTelecomsBusiness