TAMPA, Fla. — OneWeb, the U.K.-headquartered low Earth orbit (LEO) broadband operator, is buying Texas-based managed satcoms provider TrustComm to create a new government subsidiary.
The deal comes soon after the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) contracted OneWeb to demonstrate managed satcom services in Arctic locations.
“OneWeb’s acquisition of TrustComm underpins our strategy to rapidly scale satellite communications service to the U.S. Department of Defense and other government agencies as they look to integrate high throughput, low latency solutions to meet new connectivity demands,” OneWeb head of government services Dylan Browne said in a statement.
TrustComm CEO Bob Roe will lead a new subsidiary at OneWeb following the deal it expects to close this year, after regulatory approvals.
OneWeb has only launched a third of its constellation of 650 satellites, but said it successfully demonstrated data rates of up to 500 megabits per second to the DoD in March. It is advertising average network speeds of up to 195 megabits per second.
TrustComm signed an agreement March 16 to be OneWeb’s DoD distribution partner, focusing on early adopters including the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and U.S. Army Futures Research Lab.
Established in 1999, TrustComm will be an important access point to the U.S government market for OneWeb, which expects the DoD will be its largest customer.
The acquisition’s financial details were not disclosed.
OneWeb’s 18-month contract with AFRL is worth about $3.4 million for testing services between certain U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) sites.
The increasingly strategic Arctic region suffers from poor connectivity because of its high latitude and extreme terrain.
OneWeb aims to offer services in the Arctic region this fall after two more launches, each placing 36 satellites in polar orbits.
SpaceX has also been launching Starlink LEO broadband satellites into polar orbits.
However, Rick Lober, vice president and general manager of the defense and intelligence systems division at Hughes, told SpaceNews May 5 that only OneWeb will be able to deliver 24-hour high throughput services to strategic Arctic regions by the end of 2021.
U.S.-based Hughes Network Systems, a OneWeb investor supplying parts of its ground segment, is prime contractor for the AFRL contract.