Telstra signs deal with OneWeb to connect Australia’s remote areas

Australia network

Australian operator Telstra and satellite firm OneWeb have signed a deal that promises to deliver ‘one of the world’s largest rollouts’ of its LEO backhaul for a commercial mobile network.

After a period of testing the firms are set to begin moving hundreds of existing remote mobile base stations currently using satellite backhaul to OneWeb’s LEO solution this year. Telstra will also make use of OneWeb LEO satellites for future sites where satellite backhaul is preferable, or indeed the only way to hook a remote area up.

25 Gbit/s connectivity is promised to remote mobile customers across Australia, and in time Telstra will expand mobile coverage with new remote site deployments. We’re told this is all part of a ‘T25’ commitment which aims to deliver an additional 100,000 square kilometres of mobile coverage by the end of 2025.

“It allows us to extend our options for our consumer, small business and enterprise customers in hard-to-reach places across rural and regional Australia – especially those that require added redundancy in the instance of a power or transmission incident,” said Nikos Katinakis, Telstra Group Executive, Global Networks and Technology.  “Our initial focus is using the service as a backhaul medium to connect remote mobile base stations. In time, it also offers us capability to deliver voice and fixed broadband services to regional Australia.

“We plan to extend the testing program for additional use cases including network backhaul resilience, such as a back-up to fixed backhaul for selected critical sites. As well as into emerging use cases for business, enterprise and government customers like IoT and connectivity on the move for the emergency services agencies, mining, oil and gas sector.”

David Thorn, Vice President, APAC at OneWeb added: “This is a first for us in terms of its scale and integration. For the first time in Australia, we’re working with a major partner to deliver OneWeb’s service across an entire continent for the benefit of remote users including consumers, enterprises and government agencies. From our perspective, it’s one of the largest single rollouts of LEO satellite capacity for mobile backhaul worldwide. Telstra will also be pivotal in collaborating with us on future generations of OneWeb product development.”

OneWeb says it has more than 630 satellites in orbit presently, with global coverage ‘on track’ for the end of the year. Its services are expected to switch on in Australia this year, and worldwide service is promised to be available early next year.

The vast stretches of land between settled areas across Australia means lots of remote areas can be hard to plug into the grid with terrestrial towers, So Australia has always served as a solid use case for satellite connectivity.

As have the expanse of the oceans – where OneWeb is also targeting its services. Earlier this month it partnered with VAR Speedcast and German shipping company F. Laeisz to launch its connectivity service for ships, in a trial which is providing connectivity for a polar research ship.


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