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UK’s OneWeb Signs MoU With Kazakhstan’s Astana International Finance Centre To Expand Connectivity

OneWeb, the global communications company, whose goal is to connect everyone everywhere, has announced that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC), the largest financial hub in Central Asia, to accelerate broadband connectivity in Kazakhstan.

The MoU marks the start of a partnership focused on achieving two important goals in Kazakhstan and Central Asia: providing the first low-latency satellite broadband in Kazakhstan and establishing a technical hub in the country to support OneWeb’s communication service delivery across Central Asia.

The MoU was signed by the Governor of AIFC Kairat Kelimbetov and OneWeb’s CEO Adrian Steckel during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where they discussed how OneWeb will enhance the implementation of a key government program called “Digital Kazakhstan” and other initiatives for greater collaboration between OneWeb and Kazakhstan.

Digital Kazakhstan aims to provide high-speed broadband across Kazakhstan by 2022, boosting development of the country’s economy and improving the quality of life of Kazakh citizens by means of digital technologies. As a part of this effort, Digital Kazakhstan seeks to expand the country’s telecommunication networks and prioritizes providing broadband access by satellite in 6,600 rural and remote communities.

OneWeb plans to engage local telecom operators among its distribution partners to provide its ubiquitous, high-speed, low-latency “fiber-like” broadband connectivity across the private and public sector, including businesses, schools, hospitals and civil services in Kazakhstan.

A technical hub serving the greater Central Asia region will also be one of the projects under consideration, enabled by existing space communications infrastructure in Kazakhstan. OneWeb is considering setting up a joint venture in the jurisdiction of AIFC to operate this Central Asia technical hub.

OneWeb supports Kazakhstan’s ambition to digitize its economy and become a pioneer of new satellite communications technologies, further developing Kazakhstan’s reputation as an innovative country, especially in ‘New Space’ technology and adding momentum to its satellite communications sector.

Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb, said, “I am very pleased that AIFC and OneWeb have become strategic partners and we see this as the foundation to build and evolve a wider partnership with Kazakhstan. The Government of Kazakhstan, like OneWeb, sees the importance of bridging the digital divide and enabling the digitization of its economy using innovative and modern satellite technology.”

Kairat Kelimbetov, Governor of AIFC, said, “I am pleased to sign the MoU with OneWeb and AIFC is looking forward to bringing innovative projects to Kazakhstan by offering the best environment for setting up business and helping drive inward investment. This is the first step of many that will help to develop our economy.”

At the end of February 2019, OneWeb successfully launched its first batch of Low Earth Orbiting satellites. The next launch is scheduled for early February 2020 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and this signals the beginning of regular launches of more than 30 satellites at a time to build OneWeb’s first phase constellation of 650 satellites, to be followed by further phases to deliver additional capacity and meet customer demand.

The Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) was created on the initiative of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. The constitutional law on the establishment of the AIFC was signed on 7 December 2015. AIFC’s goal is to form a leading centre of financial services at the international level. The AIFC aims to assist in attracting investment in the country’s economy, create an attractive environment for investing in financial services, develop the securities market of the Republic of Kazakhstan and ensure its integration with international capital markets.

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