Broadband satellite trailblazer’s funding tops £1bn
Posted on January 18, 2021 by Jonathan Symcox
OneWeb’s funding has topped £1 billion as it seeks to launch a fleet of satellites to improve global internet connectivity.
The low earth orbit satellite communications company is jointly owned by the UK government and Bharti Global after each committed $500m to help it emerge from bankruptcy last year.
OneWeb has now secured additional funding from SoftBank Group and Hughes Network Systems LLC, which the London firm says positions it to be fully funded for its first-generation satellite fleet, totalling 648 satellites, by the end of 2022.
OneWeb’s mission is to offer fast internet access to the entire world, including a ‘pathway to 5G’.
In December 2020 it launched 36 new satellites, built at its Airbus Joint Venture assembly plant in Florida, taking its total fleet to 110 satellites.
“We are delighted to welcome the investment from SoftBank and Hughes,” said executive chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal.
“Both are deeply familiar with our business, share our vision for the future, and their commitment allows us to capitalise on the significant growth opportunity ahead for OneWeb.
“We gain from their experience and capabilities, as we deliver a unique LEO network for the world.”
Secretary of State, BEIS, The Rt. Hon. Kwasi Kwarteng, MP said: “Our investment in OneWeb is part of our continued commitment to the UK’s space sector, putting Britain at the forefront of the latest technological advances.
“Today’s investment brings the company one step closer to delivering its mission to provide global broadband connectivity for people, businesses and governments, while potentially unlocking new research, development and manufacturing opportunities in the UK.”
Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank, said: “We are excited to support OneWeb as it increases capacity and accelerates towards commercialisation.
“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Bharti, the UK Government and Hughes to help OneWeb deliver on its mission to transform internet access around the world.”
SoftBank will gain a seat on the OneWeb board of directors as a result of the investment.