Telefonica and OneWeb want to spread satellite broadband even further

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Andrey Armyagov)

Telefonica has reached a deal with OneWeb, the satellite broadband firm part-owned by the UK government, to provide connectivity to remote parts of Europe and Latin America.

OneWeb’s constellation of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites will complement Telefonica’s existing fixed and mobile networks, allowing rural areas to access high speed, low latency connectivity.

The network will also provide mobile backhaul, offering a backup for critical sites or providing additional capacity for special events.

OneWeb Telefonica 

Telefonica has networks in its native Spain, Germany and the UK, where it is a partner in the Virgin Media O2 joint-venture, and across South and Central America.

“By partnering with OneWeb, we can augment our portfolio by offering solutions that require low latency,” said Julio Beamonte, chief executive Ooficer at Telefónica Global Solutions.

“Our experience will be essential when adapting the OneWeb solution to provide corporate, B2B and cellular backhaul services and help fuel adoption of critical business applications in the hardest-to-connect areas. We are focused on helping our B2B and Wholesale customers to drive transformational change in their business, and we believe our partnership with OneWeb will help us do that.”

OneWeb currently has a constellation of 428 satellites but plans a total of 650 to provide global coverage, bringing broadband to some of the most remote parts of the world and transforming consumer services, in-flight Wi-Fi, and industrial applications.

The company faced bankruptcy in 2020 before it was rescued through a takeover by Indian telco Bharti Airtel and the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, which owns a third of the business.

“This arrangement is fantastic news for communities across Europe and Latin America, who will benefit from better and enhanced network coverage,” added OneWeb chief ececutive officer Niel Masterson. 

“OneWeb believes that our unique network has a crucial role to play in providing connectivity for the hardest-to-reach areas globally, so we look forward to working with Telefónica to deliver enhanced internet performance and availability to customers.”

Rival SpaceX’s satellite internet service is now available ion 32 countries, with the Elon Musk-backed venture claiming orders from customers in covered areas will be fulfilled immediately.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.