OneWeb strikes agreement with Kazakhstan hub
January 28, 2020
By Chris Forrester
Mega-constellation operator OneWeb has signed an MoU with Astana International, the largest financial hub in Central Asia, in order to accelerate the take up of broadband in Kazakhstan and the surrounding region.
“The MoU marks the start of a partnership focused on achieving two important goals in Kazakhstan and Central Asia: providing the first low-latency satellite broadband in Kazakhstan and establishing a technical hub in the country to support OneWeb’s communication service delivery across Central Asia,” says a company statement.
The MoU was signed by the Governor of AIFC Kairat Kelimbetov and OneWeb’s CEO Adrian Steckel during the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where they discussed how OneWeb will enhance the implementation of a key government program called ‘Digital Kazakhstan’ and other initiatives for greater collaboration between OneWeb and Kazakhstan.
“Digital Kazakhstan aims to provide high-speed broadband across Kazakhstan by 2022, boosting the development of the country’s economy and improving the quality of life of Kazakhstani citizens by means of digital technologies. As a part of this effort, Digital Kazakhstan seeks to expand the country’s telecommunication networks and prioritizes providing broadband access by satellite in 6,600 rural and remote communities,” the statement adds.
OneWeb says it plans to engage local telecom operators among its distribution partners to provide its ubiquitous, high-speed, low-latency ‘fibre-like’ broadband connectivity across the private and public sector, including businesses, schools, hospitals and civil services in Kazakhstan.
“A technical hub serving the greater Central Asia region will also be one of the projects under consideration, enabled by existing space communications infrastructure in Kazakhstan. OneWeb is considering setting up a joint venture in the jurisdiction of AIFC to operate this Central Asia technical hub.”
OneWeb says it supports Kazakhstan’s ambition to digitize its economy and become a pioneer of new satellite communications technologies, further developing Kazakhstan’s reputation as an innovative country, especially in ‘New Space’ technology and adding momentum to its satellite communications sector.
Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb said: “I am very pleased that AIFC and OneWeb have become strategic partners and we see this as the foundation to build and evolve a wider partnership with Kazakhstan. The Government of Kazakhstan, like OneWeb, sees the importance of bridging the digital divide and enabling the digitization of its economy using innovative and modern satellite technology.”
At the end of February 2019, OneWeb successfully launched its first batch of Low Earth Orbiting satellites. The next launch is scheduled for early February 2020 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and this signals the beginning of regular launches of more than 30 satellites at a time to build OneWeb’s first phase constellation of 650 satellites, to be followed by further phases to deliver additional capacity and meet customer demand.