OneWeb satellite artist impression

OneWeb to launch internet service in Asia; abandons Russian-held satellites

Image credit: OneWeb

Satellite firm OneWeb, which is part-owned by the UK government, has announced a multi-year deal to deliver its connectivity services across mainland South-East Asia.

The company has also abandoned efforts to retrieve satellites worth $50m that were located in Russia around the start of the Ukrainian invasion.

The satellites are currently held in their Soyuz launch site at the Russia-owned Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. OneWeb chief executive Neil Masterson said: “I spend no time thinking about it. We’ve completely moved on. There is value getting them back, but I can tell you that I’m not getting them back any time soon.”

The firm, which has already received an insurance payout regarding the fallout with Russia, has nearly completed its satellite constellation, which will provide worldwide internet connectivity.

So far, OneWeb has launched 584 satellites out of 648, meaning that it services are almost ready to go.

The latest deal with Thailand-based mu Space will see the service be made available in countries including Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Mu Space will distribute the satellite service to enterprises with applications in remote communities, land mobility, maritime opportunities and backhauling. It will be used for in-flight connectivity and remote monitoring of fires, floods and natural disasters amongst other applications.

James Yenbamroong, CEO mu Space Corp, said: “The expansion of broadband internet connectivity to remote areas that lack connections is crucial and we’re glad to be part of making this possible through space and ground technologies.

“Our expertise and knowledge of our region, as well as innovative technology, enable mu Space to tailor solutions to provide an ideal supplement to each sector in each nation.”

Masterson added: “The last few years have shown us that remote internet connectivity is both exciting and vital across sectors such as enterprise, education, health and government.

“We are excited to partner with such a dynamic company, that is so well aligned to our goals, to further our reach across South-East Asia and connect even more communities and enterprises.”

The UK Government originally bought a stake in OneWeb in 2020 as a means to expand its space industry, following its withdrawal from the EU and its Galileo project.

The firm was purchased in consortium with India’s Bharti Global after it entered administration and lacked the funds to complete its satellite constellation.

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