OneWeb and Airtel Africa partner to deliver telecoms services across Africa


The Distribution Partnership Agreement will see OneWeb provide connectivity services to government and enterprise customers across parts of Africa

Today, OneWeb has announced a new distribution deal with Airtel Africa, giving the telco access to their growing low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellite constellation to provide connectivity to customers.

The strategic agreement focusses on using the LEO satellites to deliver connectivity to government and enterprise customers, especially those in hard-to-reach areas. Agricultural sites, schools, hotels, hospitals, and the energy and mining sectors are also noted as targets for the satellite service.

OneWeb is set to begin trialling its low latency communications services in South Africa in September 2023, with the long-term goal to rollout the service across Airtel Africa’s entire continental footprint, comprising 14 countries in East, Central, and West Africa.

“At OneWeb, we believe that connection everywhere changes everything, so we are excited to be working with Airtel Africa to enhance OneWeb’s connectivity solutions across the African continent,” said Ben Griffin, VP Mobility and AMEA at OneWeb. “This is a strategic fit, given our shared commitment to resiliency and excellence in communications services and the partnership represents another exciting milestone on our path to delivering global connectivity. We look forward to delivering high-performance service across Africa, even in the hardest to reach places.”

For the time being, however, OneWeb’s potential African customers will need to wait before they can receive connectivity services; the company currently has 462 satellites in orbit, allowing it to only offer commercial services above the 50th Parallel North – essentially, Northern Europe and Canada.

OneWeb says they will need 648 satellites to offer global coverage, including across Africa, with the company suggesting that this will take four more launches. The full constellation is expected to be operational in 2023.

Alongside this deal with Airtel Africa, OneWeb has today also announced a similar partnership with Middle Eastern satellite player Azyan Telecom, allowing them to satellite connectivity throughout Oman.

These are the latest in a long string of telco partnerships that OneWeb has struck over the past year, including with giants such as AT&T in the US and BT in the UK.

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