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Saudi Ministry of Communications Inks MOU with OneWeb to Bridge Digital Divide

H.E. Abdulla Al-Sawaha, Saudi Minister for Communications and Information Technology, and Sir Richard Branson witness the signing of the MoU between OneWeb and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), signed by OneWeb founder and Executive Chairman Greg Wyler and Abdullah Al-Kanhal, Deputy Minister for Communications and Digital Infrastructure. Photograph courtesy of OneWeb.

In a ceremony witnessed by H.E the Minister Eng. Abdulla Al-Sawaha and Sir Richard Branson, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and OneWeb have signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on the development of solutions in 2020 which should help to connect 237,000 homes throughout the country bringing much needed affordable, high-speed, low latency broadband access to those living in rural and remote areas. This MOU comes within the efforts of MCIT to extend all the Kingdom’s areas of high-speed internet and to enhance the infrastructure of communications and data networks, in line with the National Transformation Plan aiming to reach high-speed Internet for the vast majority of rural and remote areas by 2020.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has set a goal to connect the majority of its residents living in rural and remote areas by 2020, and OneWeb is going to provide the necessary infrastructure to connect these traditionally hard-to-reach areas. Together, The Kingdom and OneWeb will be able to help enable access to healthcare, education, and economic opportunities through connectivity.

Signing on behalf of MCIT, Eng. Abdullah Al-Kanhal, Deputy Minister for Communications and Digital Infrastructure, said, “As part of the Kingdom’s National Transformation Plan, we have launched an ambitious programme to provide high-speed wireless connectivity to more than 70% of households in rural areas by 2020. Our partnership with OneWeb will enable us to provide the remaining 30% of rural households with high-speed wireless connectivity after 2020, empowering people in rural areas to seize the opportunities of the digital age.”

Greg Wyler, Founder and Executive Chairman of OneWeb, signed the MOU earlier today and said, “Starting in 2020, OneWeb will be able to deliver everyone in Saudi Arabia, regardless of their location, high-speed broadband at their home, office, or school. This means a brighter future for those currently living without access. Our system will enable every small business to participate in the global market, creating real and lasting economic opportunity for the Kingdom.”

This partnership between MCIT and OneWeb represents one of many that OneWeb is entering as it ramps up to launch satellites early next year. OneWeb will begin commercial service in Saudi Arabia starting in 2020.

OneWeb is committed to bridging the digital divide around the world by 2027, and is working with governments, Internet Service Providers, mobile operators and others to provide the infrastructure to connect the last mile. The cost of building out terrestrial networks remains extremely high and reaching across challenging terrain is very difficult, as well. OneWeb’s system will be able to provide affordable, turnkey broadband quality access to connect people no matter where they live.

OneWeb’s mission is to enable affordable Internet access for everyone, to connect all the unconnected schools of the world, and to fully bridge the digital divide by 2027. OneWeb is building a global communications network, with a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites, that will provide connectivity to billions of people around the world. With more than 7 Tbps of global capacity, OneWeb will extend the networks of mobile operators and ISPs to serve new coverage areas, bringing connectivity and voice and data communications to consumers, businesses, schools, healthcare institutions and other end users.

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology’s purpose is to empower the people of Saudi Arabia to seize the opportunities of the digital age. In the 21st century, data is the new oil and digital technology will drive the realization of Vision 2030, allowing the Kingdom to expand prosperity through the digital economy, create a digital society that better connects people to social services and provides citizens with the ability to engage government constructively. By 2030, the Kingdom seeks to be the leading regional incubator for innovation at the cutting edge of global R&D.

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