AT&T signed a memorandum of understanding with satellite operator OneWeb, creating a framework enabling the operator to sell broadband services to businesses outside the area of its fibre network.

Announcing the deal, AT&T explained OneWeb’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites will also be used to backhaul cell sites hard to reach with fibre. The business service will launch in Alaska this year, with nationwide coverage planned for 2022.

Alaska is one area covered by the 288 birds launched by OneWeb so far. It aims to have 648 deployed by end-2022.

The US Federal Communications Commission granted OneWeb permission to use the Ku- (12GHz to 18GHz), Ka- (26GHz to 40GHz) and the V-band (37.5GHz to-43.5GHz, 47.2GHz to 50.2GHz and 50.4GHz to 51.4GHz).

OneWeb told Mobile World Live it is currently using the Ku- and Ka-bands.

AT&T’s arrangement with OneWeb could preface similar deals for other mobile and satellite operators.

During MWC21 Barcelona, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk explained his Starlink LEO satellite business had partnerships with two major operators and was in talks with others.

AT&T stated its fibre network now passes more than 9 million business customer locations, 2.5 million of which are using it.