Telstra Signs on Low Earth Orbit Satellite Company to Help Boost Mobile Coverage

Telstra Signs on Low Earth Orbit Satellite Company to Help Boost Mobile Coverage
A OneWeb satellite. Image: OneWeb

Earlier this week, Telstra and OneWeb signed a “memorandum of understanding” (MoU) to explore digital connectivity issues and solutions across both Australia and the Asia Pacific region.

If business-speak is unknown to you, an MoU isn’t a contract to explore a specific thing, it’s more of a wide-ranging partnership covering a concept.

In the case of Telstra and OneWeb’s MoU, it’s a non-exclusive agreement, bringing together OneWeb’s satellite capacity and Telstra’s presence in Australia. Telstra sees the deal as complementary to its T25 ambitions to grow its network coverage across Australia.

“We see lots of opportunities for our consumer, small business and enterprise customers using LEO satellite connectivity – from backhaul to back-up for resiliency, from IoT [Internet of Things] to supporting emergency services, from home broadband to supporting agritech,” says Andy Penn, the CEO of Telstra.

“It also opens up opportunities in the wider Asia Pacific region alongside our existing and future operations.”

So what does it mean to explore digital connectivity issues and solutions across Australia and the Asia Pacific? Well, OneWeb is a pretty big player in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) space, offering web connectivity solutions at an enterprise and government level (the company also offers aviation and maritime web solutions). It could mean the improvement of satellite services in Australia, or further support for Telstra’s mobile coverage, and that’s what the MoU will explore.

OneWeb has 428 satellites in orbit at the time of writing with more planned. OneWeb actually signed a distribution partnership agreement with Vocus back in December. That specific partnership meant that Vocus would distribute OneWeb LEO satellite internet plans as an Australian partner. You might know Vocus as the company that owns Dodo and iPrimus. Field Solutions Holdings also has a deal to distribute OneWeb satellite services to regional and remote Australia.

The deal with Telstra, however, is a bit more expansive, applying to the Asia Pacific region as well. It’s a team-up to explore problems and solutions and could lead to improvements in satellite connectivity for this part of the world. As a side-note, Telstra has also been a bit busy in the satellite space, after announcing a partnership with Viasat.

“Together with Telstra, OneWeb’s global LEO network has the power to connect even the most remote parts of the region, and we look to realising our ambition to bringing connectivity to those hardest to reach,” added Neil Masterson, the CEO of OneWeb.

Masterson also said that communities and businesses in Australia and the Asia Pacific can now look forward to high-speed and low latency connectivity from LEO satellites.