OneWeb bags Philippines critical comms deal

Filipino business services provider Now Corp has become the latest telco to tap up satellite specialist OneWeb.

Nick Wood

May 4, 2023

3 Min Read
OneWeb Satellite

Filipino business services provider Now Corp has become the latest telco to tap up satellite specialist OneWeb.

The two signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Wednesday that paves the way for delivering broadband connectivity in hard-to-reach places via OneWeb’s fleet of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites.

Now Corp’s Now Telecom unit already offers cellular fixed-wireless access (FWA) services to enterprises and SMEs across the Philippines under the Fiber Air brand. It is also in the middle of building out a 5G standalone (SA) network in partnership with Nokia and Cisco – and with a little help in the form of a grant from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) – in a bid to take on Smart, Globe and Dito in the retail mobile market.

As an archipelago of more than 7,500 islands, the Philippines lends itself well to satellite connectivity. Partnering with OneWeb will augment Now’s terrestrial coverage, and give it the ability to offer connectivity services to the aviation and maritime industries, and provide backup connectivity for mission critical communications.

“The integration of multi-orbit satellites provides a surprisingly compelling customer experience in both fixed and mobile applications,” said Mel Velarde, chairman of Now Corp, in a statement. “Our alliance with OneWeb and with the support of the United States government to the Now Group will provide a clean, secure, and SLA-based connectivity to critical infrastructures such as banks, hospitals, schools, mining sites, power plants, government, and all other entities under the country’s digital economy.”

OneWeb in March put the finishing touches to its LEO constellation by conducting its 18th and final launch, which put another 36 satellites in orbit, bringing the total to 618. It means OneWeb will be able to offer global coverage from this year.

“This is an exciting partnership that is set to bring transformational connectivity to people, businesses, and government bodies throughout the Philippines,” said OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson. “Now has done tremendous work toward getting the people of the Philippines online, and we’re honoured to have the opportunity to enhance and build upon this work with an LEO connectivity solution that is fast, secure and reliable across vast distances, seas and rugged terrain.”

The deal with OneWeb could also help Now defend its position in the enterprise market from Starlink. The SpaceX-owned LEO operator launched commercial services in the Philippines in February having been granted final approval by the government last year. Last October, Data Lake – which is owned by Filipino businessmen Henry Sy Junior and Anthony Almeda – struck a deal to resell Starlink services to businesses and government organisations.

In addition, mobile operator Smart Communications is working with US-based LEO provider Omnispace to explore the potential of satellite-based 5G services. Use cases under consideration include remote broadband connectivity, IoT services, disaster relief and maritime telematics among others. Smart has also been working with direct-to-device LEO provider AST SpaceMobile since July 2021.

With OneWeb now entering the fray, the Philippines space race is very much on.


Get the latest news straight to your inbox. Register for the newsletter here.

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

Get the latest news straight to your inbox.
Register for the newsletter here.

You May Also Like