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BT Group in talks with satellite internet specialist OneWeb over rural connectivity

OneWeb is part-owned by UK taxpayers after it was rescued by the government last year

BT Group PLC -

BT Group PLC (LON:BT.A) and OneWeb Satellites, the London-based rival for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband network, have agreed a deal to provide internet to remote rural areas of the UK. 

Under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the pair, they will "explore the provision of improved digital communication services to "some of the hardest to reach parts of the UK". 

A potential collaboration between the pair was mooted earlier this year, following the UK government's £400mln rescue of OneWeb from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US late last year, which resulted in the taxpayer emerging with a 33% stake in the company. 

BT boss Philip Jansen said as part of the efforts to bring digital connectivity across the UK, "it is clear that greater partnership is needed, both with government and within industry".

He said the agreement with OneWeb "is an important step to understanding how that goal could be achieved in the future".

OneWeb, which is also part-owned by India's Bharti Global, said its network is uniquely capable of serving hard to reach communities and the agreement with BT will focus on how satellite technology "might support improved capacity, mobile resilience, backhaul and coverage, including fixed wireless access".

Talks between the pair will consider ways of using OneWeb’s low-Earth orbit satellites to remote businesses and communities, as well as identifying potential opportunities for collaboration for other services outside the UK for BT’s multinational clients, according to the pair's announcement.

OneWeb also said it is seeing increasing demand from customers, withn recent distribution partner signings across multiple industries north of the 50th parallel.

OneWeb’s CEO Neil Masterson, said: “This partnership is a huge sign of progress in the resilience and advancement of the overall telecom infrastructure in the UK. OneWeb’s network will be a vital means for bridging the last digital divides across the network and we are excited to be part of the solution with BT to expand the nation’s digital infrastructure.”

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