France-based Orange will use OneWeb's low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to improve rural coverage across its footprint.

Nick Wood

March 9, 2023

3 Min Read
Communication network above Earth for global business and finance digital exchange. Internet of things (IoT), blockchain,
Communication network above Earth for global business and finance digital exchange. Internet of things (IoT), blockchain, smart connected cities, futuristic technology concept. Satellite view.

France-based Orange will use OneWeb’s low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to improve rural coverage across its footprint.

The distribution agreement, announced on Wednesday, covers Europe, Africa, Latin America, and “other global regions”. Orange plans to leverage OneWeb’s network to offer connectivity services to enterprises as well as other telcos. It will also use it for backhaul in remote locations.

“We believe that satellite is a promising and complementary technology showcasing many recent innovations that will benefit enterprises all around the word and will accelerate the digital inclusion of populations within our subsidiaries in Africa and the Middle East,” said Jean-Louis Le Roux, EVP of Orange International Networks Infrastructures and Services, in a statement.

“Our customers ranging from multinationals, enterprises, governments to NGOs will have access to OneWeb’s pioneering satellite network. This high speed and low latency solution will efficiently complement Orange Business’ existing portfolio to keep connecting our customers to their applications anytime, anywhere, with the right quality of service to meet their business requirements,” added Anne-Marie Thiollet, deputy EVP of products and marketing, Orange Business.

Signing up a major incumbent that serves more than 240 million mobile customers is quite the feather in OneWeb’s cap, and serves to validate the company’s technology, strategy, and general direction of travel.

Orange is not alone of course in seeing the value in tapping OneWeb’s network. At Mobile World Congress (MWC) last week, Veon – which boasts around 200 million customers in seven markets – signed up to use OneWeb’s constellation to improve coverage across its emerging-market footprint.

The continued success of players like OneWeb and SpaceX’s Starlink, among others, has not gone unnoticed, and is fuelling broader interest in LEO satellite services. Earlier this week, the Council of the European Union gave its final approval for a €6 billion LEO project called IRIS². The first services will come online next year, with full operational capability due three years later.

While the EU is just getting started, OneWeb is making rapid progress towards completing the deployment of its satellite network.

On Thursday, another 40 OneWeb satellites are due to blast off from Cape Canaveral in the US on board a SpaceX rocket. Once up and running, they will increase its total number of satellites in orbit  to 582. It will be OneWeb’s 17th and penultimate launch and will put the company on track to provide global coverage by the end of the year.

“The launch will enable the company to continue expanding services around the world as it grows its fleet and seeks to initiate services for more partners around the world, providing Internet connectivity to unserved and underserved rural and remote communities and businesses,” OneWeb said, in a separate statement.

OneWeb has been launching satellites at an impressive rate lately. Thursday’s mission will be the fourth to take place since last October. If all goes well, it will have grown its constellation by 156 satellites in around six months.


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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.

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