This week Hughes Network Systems announced it had “been chosen” by LEO broadband provider OneWeb to develop and manufacture “essential” ground system tech for its new constellation. Hughes has a three year contract valued at around $250 million. It shouldn’t be a surprise since Hughes earlier ponied up $50 million in getting OneWeb out of bankruptcy.
“Today’s announcement of a continued technology partnership with OneWeb reflects our position as the trusted innovator in the industry,” said Pradman Kaul, president, Hughes. “The ground system we develop will enable reliable, low latency broadband data, ideal for a wide range of customer applications.”
Hughes will build larger ground station gateway hardware for OneWeb along with user module hardware for end-user terminals distributed to customers around the world. The company had previously installed seven OneWeb gateways prior to March bankruptcy. Under the new agreement, Hughes has “ramped up” gateway equipment production and resumed testing on the installed systems.
There’s not a lot of detail on the “core module” for OneWeb user terminals. The core module, according to the press release can be incorporated in fixed, aeronautical, and maritime terminals, using either electronically or mechanically steered antennas.
After filing for bankruptcy in March, OneWeb transferred ownership into a consortium led by the U.K. Government and Bharti Enterprises, with Hughes agreeing “in principle” to invest $50 million, so Hughes has a vested interest in getting some return on investment.
OneWeb is expected to resume launch operations on December 18, putting 36 satellites in orbit towards populating a constellation of around 680 satellites for initial production service in the 2021-2022 timeframe.