TAMPA, Fla. — South Korea’s Hanwha Systems, the OneWeb investor with plans for its own low Earth orbit (LEO) broadband constellation, has secured regulatory permission to operate as a satellite communications provider in the country.

The approval from South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT enables Hanwha Systems to provide LEO internet services to businesses and government organizations, the company announced July 11.

Hanwha Systems, the defense arm of South Korean conglomerate Hanwha, does not currently own a communications network. 

However, the company plans to provide broadband later this year via satellites operated by OneWeb, following a $300 million investment in the British company in August 2021. 

While French geostationary operator Eutelsat is seeking regulatory permission to buy out Hanwha Systems and other OneWeb investors, the South Korean firm said it also plans to provide parts for OneWeb’s second-generation — a sign of its long-term commitment to the venture.

Hanwha Systems has also invested in two antenna makers in recent years to build out its space ambitions: U.S.-based Kymeta and Phasor Solutions of the United Kingdom.

In 2021, Hanwha Systems unveiled plans to build and deploy 2,000 LEO satellites by the end of the decade, focusing on providing connectivity to urban cargo-delivery drones and passenger airplanes.  

The company did not provide an update on these plans in a news release announcing its registration as a communications business operator.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...