Hughes and OneWeb partner for US, India service launch

10 September 2021 | Melanie Mingas

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Hughes Network Systems and OneWeb have signed a distribution agreement in the US and a memorandum of understanding in India to extend connectivity services.

In the US, the two will focus on enterprise services and in India distribution will reach large enterprises, SMEs, government, telcos and ISPs, including in the rural and remote parts of the country. For this, services will be offered by Hughes Network Systems, LLC, and Hughes Communications India Private Ltd., respectively.

Pradman Kaul (pictured), president of Hughes, said: "The future of connectivity depends on a worldwide network of multiple transports, including terrestrial, geostationary and Low Earth Orbit satellite services. OneWeb's system enhances the Hughes portfolio of networking capabilities, introducing a low-latency option with global reach that complements GEO satellite capacity density and capability to meet our customers' needs. As a case in point, in India which has been starved of high-throughput satellite services, the OneWeb services will help us meet the tremendous backhaul and broadband demand."

The two satcos are far from strangers. Hughes, through its parent company EchoStar, is an investor in OneWeb and is also an ecosystem partner to OneWeb, developing gateway electronics and the core module that will power every user terminal for the system.

Further, Hughes is the prime contractor on an agreement with the US Air Force Research Lab to integrate and demonstrate managed LEO SATCOM using OneWeb capacity in the Arctic region.

Ahead of confirming their latest agreement –during the Satellite 2021 conference at National Harbor, the week after ITW – Hughes and OneWeb demonstrated multi-orbit connectivity in action.

The test, recorded on August 26, featured the real-time, seamless switching between Hughes' JUPITER 2 geostationary, high-throughput satellite (HTS) and OneWeb's low latency, high speed LEO constellation. The demonstration highlighted advantages of each type of connectivity as Hughes ActiveTechnologies™ software instantaneously evaluated the type of traffic and transmitted it over the most efficient path: latency-sensitive activities (like fast-twitch video gaming and a video call) were transmitted via OneWeb; bandwidth-intensive activities like video streaming were transmitted via JUPITER HTS.

OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said: "OneWeb is thrilled to be working with Hughes to offer our connectivity solution across the US and India. This agreement is another example of our commitment to deliver high-quality, continuous internet access to areas in need including in rural and remote areas of the U.S and India. Hughes is already an important investor and an invaluable technology partner, and I look forward to continuing to grow our relationship further."

Hughes supplies more than half the global satellite terminal market to satellite operators, in-flight service providers, MNOs and military customers. However, it hit a snag in India last year when its unpaid government fees hit $84 million (Rs 600 crore). At the time Hughes said that it may have to file for bankruptcy and close its Indian operations.

On the tech front, Hughes is developing its next generation JUPITER 3 ultra-high density satellite, expected to launch in the second half of 2022.

OneWeb, which has courted hundreds of millions in investment since its brush with bankruptcy last year, is building its initial constellation of 648 LEO satellites. Its services will begin this year across Alaska, Canada, and the UK with global roll out due by late 2022. Earlier this week it announced a wholesale deal with AT&T.