NEOM Tech & Digital Holding Company – the first holding company to be established as a subsidiary of NEOM – and OneWeb, the second-largest LEO operator with 358 satellites and the only licensed operator in Saudi Arabia, have signed a $200 million (SAR 750m) joint venture agreement to bring high-speed satellite connectivity to NEOM, Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East and neighboring East African countries.
The partnership will see the deployment of OneWeb’s low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation, which will not only provide the rapid and reliable connectivity to enable NEOM’s ecosystem of cognitive technologies but also transform businesses and rural communities in the region where access to fiber-like internet was previously unimaginable. The agreement also includes a long-term strategic partnership regarding the research and development of future connectivity systems.
Joseph Bradley, CEO, NEOM Tech & Digital Hold Co., said, “We aim to connect 100% of NEOM’s territory yet we must also preserve the natural environment. This is what drives us to innovate with partners such as OneWeb to create sustainable ways to accelerate human progress. The partnership has the potential to transform the way governments, businesses, and communities connect to the internet.”
It also builds on the relationship between OneWeb and the ministry of communications and information technology (MCIT) and the ministry of investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA). NEOM subsidiary’s new joint venture agreement will have exclusive rights to distribute OneWeb services in its target regions for seven years from the initiation of the LEO satellite network, which is expected to commence in 2023.
Neil Masterson, CEO, OneWeb, said, “This agreement represents OneWeb’s global vision to help bridge the digital divide through our innovative LEO satellite network. By working with NEOM Tech & Digital Hold Co., OneWeb will support the ambitions of NEOM, connecting businesses, and communities and supporting the resilience of connectivity systems across the wider region.”
Currently, OneWeb uses the latest security protection employed in advanced mobile networks. NEOM Tech & Digital Hold Co. will be trialing technologies to provide further security protection as well as testing new, more robust and resistant positioning and navigation solutions.
The partnership supports NEOM Tech & Digital Hold Co.’s international connectivity strategy, which will use connections to sub-sea and terrestrial communications cables, the construction of 5G and fiber networks, and now LEO satellites to secure access to tens of terabytes of scalable capacity for both urban and rural businesses and communities in NEOM by 2030.