Uzbekistan is courting satellite broadband providers Starlink and OneWeb

Uzbekistan is wooing satellite broadband providers Starlink and OneWeb to provide their services to Central Asia’s most populous country. The offer is part of the government of Uzbekistan’s efforts to improve the country’s information technology viability and deliver improved communications services to neglected distant areas.

In the country’s capital, Tashkent, high-ranking authorities met with representatives from Starlink and OneWeb to request that their satellite broadband solutions be made accessible in the country. They also encouraged the two enterprises to establish a presence in the city in order to investigate opportunities for future collaboration.

As per a May 11 announcement from Uzbekistan’s state investment promotion agency, which is a meeting between Uzbekistan’s information technologies and communications development minister and Ben MacWilliams, the Starlink market access manager, occurred on the margins of the Space Technology Conference STC-2022. According to the statement, during the discussion, Sherzod Shermatov, the minister, requested that Starlink expand its service area to cover South Asia, the Middle East, and Central Asia. In addition, the minister requested that Starlink build a regional office in Uzbekistan “to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation.”

According to the statement, MacWilliams responded by stating that his company is “ready to perform significant ventures in Uzbekistan, as well as other nations.  Starlink did not answer when SpaceNews contacted them to inquire about the “big projects.”

MacWilliams also met with Uzbekistan’s space agency director-general on May 9. According to the news agency, they talked about providing Starlink capabilities to the country. In addition, the agency announced on May 16 that it had inked an MoU (memorandum of understanding) with a British satellite broadband provider, OneWeb. Ivan Zaitsev, OneWeb’s marketing director, attended the signing event to represent the company.

According to the statement, “the main goal of the memorandum [of agreement] is to entice the British satellite communications business OneWeb to the Uzbek market.” The agreement paved the way for the two parties to talk about “regulatory problems and assessing the state’s primary needs in order to prioritize the usage of available OneWeb satellite capacity,” according to the press release. The two parties agreed to build a center of excellence in Uzbekistan for the usage of OneWeb satellite broadband as part of the agreement.

“The signing of a pact with OneWeb is an important milestone in the growth of space communications,” said Shukhrat Kadirov, the director-general of the space agency. “The provision of OneWeb telecommunications solutions in the Republic of Uzbekistan is going to efficiently perform the objectives envisioned by state programs for information technology development and guarantee the accessibility of innovative communication solutions even in distant areas of the republic.” As per data from DataReportal, which is an independent data collector, Uzbekistan’s internet penetration rate was 70.5 percent of the entire population of 34 million people in January 2022.

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