Orange struck a deal with Eutelsat to enhance connectivity across Europe through satellite, as traditional operators increasingly look to the skies to boost coverage.
In a statement, Orange said it will partner with Eutelsat to serve as an anchor distribution partner on the satellite operator’s Konnect VHTS satellite, which is expected to be in service in 2021.
Orange will use satellite connectivity to provide fixed-broadband services in European countries where the group has a retail presence, and the partnership was hailed as a “major step forward” in the group’s strategy to boost broadband coverage.
In addition to its home market of France, Orange has European operations in Moldova, Romania, Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Spain.
Stephane Richard, chairman and CEO of Orange, said satellite was becoming increasing important to “building tomorrow’s inclusive digital society, especially for delivering broadband connectivity in rural areas where it is sometimes challenging to set up traditional broadband networks”.
Thales Group, an aerospace and security company, also struck an agreement with Eutelsat to deliver government connectivity services market using the new satellite.
Telecoms, satellite partnerships
Orange’s move follows an agreement by European rival Vodafone, which signed a deal with UK satellite firm Intelsat for roaming services in 2016.
Deutsche Telekom has also partnered with Inmarsat to boost in-flight connectivity via satellite and in the US, SoftBank agreed to invest $1 billion in US satellite firm OneWeb, which aims to deliver affordable internet access to remote regions.
Eutelsat will also use its new satellite to compete with Inmarsat in the in-flight connectivity market.