Kymeta and OneWeb sign satellite broadband agreement

Engineers are testing Kymeta’s antenna system with OneWeb’s satellite service in France. (OneWeb via YouTube)

Redmond, Wash.-based Kymeta Corp., the Bill Gates-backed mobile connectivity company, has signed a distribution partnership agreement with OneWeb to offer satellite broadband services worldwide.

The agreement paves the way for Kymeta to resell OneWeb services in conjunction with fixed and mobile hardware solutions to government and commercial customers worldwide.

Today’s announcement comes as Kymeta shifts its focus to commercial, government and military customers – and as OneWeb faces challenges from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Just three months ago, the two companies agreed to adapt Kymeta’s u8 flat panel antenna system to support communications with the OneWeb constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit, or LEO, for the purpose to commercialize the system by the end of this year.

But that was before Russian forces invaded Ukraine, triggering a cascade of economic sanctions and severed trade relations. Russia’s Soyuz rockets, which launched the 428 OneWeb satellites currently in orbit, are no longer an option. This month, Russia canceled a planned launch and seized 36 of OneWeb’s satellites when the company refused to change its Anglo-Indian ownership structure and guarantee the satellites would not be used for military purposes.

This week, OneWeb announced an agreement to launch future satellites on SpaceX’s rockets. The deal is unusual, as OneWeb’s broadband service is arguably a competitor to SpaceX’s Starlink service. Starlink is already available in some markets, including Ukraine, while OneWeb has yet to start the service.

In today’s announcement, Kymeta and OneWeb hinted at the promise of mobile satellite connectivity.

“Whether connectivity is needed on land, at sea or in the air, Kymeta continues to deliver its services through innovation and strong partner relationships,” said Walter Berger, president and co-CEO of Kymeta. “Our distinctive technology can switch between linear and circular polarization in software, enabling support for Ku-band LEO and GEO constellations without any physical hardware changes required.”

OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said the agreement with Kymeta is “another example of OneWeb’s commitment to enabling resilient and secure connectivity for all with fast, high-bandwidth, low-speed communication services. latency that improve life and are accessible through breakthrough technology like the u8 flat-panel.”

The new Kymeta service will offer standalone OneWeb satellite connectivity, or a package that also includes geostationary satellite connectivity. This would be especially great for military users looking for access to a multi-constellation platform while on the go.

Last week, Kymeta announced that it had closed an $84 million funding round led by Bill Gates, aimed at accelerating production of its flat panel antennas and expanding its offerings for military customers as well as broadband users. via LEO satellite. In today’s announcement, Berger focused on defense-related applications.

“Kymeta’s expansion into managed satellite services allows us to bundle our hardware-as-a-service solutions, a capability that the U.S. DoD [Department of Defense] and other users are increasingly searching,” he said.

Kymeta also announced a new product branding to better focus on its three target markets. Its commercial connectivity terminal will be known as the Hawk u8, the terminal for government applications will be the Goshawk u8 and the terminal for military applications will be the Osprey u8.

This focus on commercial, government and military customers – as opposed to individual consumers – is consistent with OneWeb’s current market strategy.

Update for 12:10 a.m. PT on March 22: OneWeb also announced a partnership with Eutelsat to provide LEO connectivity services; with Speedcast for the distribution of services; and with Telstra to use gateway services in teleports across Australia,

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