OneWeb secures $400-million investment from SoftBank, Hughes

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 15, 2021

OneWeb is the Low Earth Orbit satellite communications company jointly owned by the UK government and Bharti Global   -  REUTERS

Total funding jumps to $1.4 billion

OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company jointly owned by the UK government and Bharti Global, said it has secured additional funding of $400 million from SoftBank Group Corp (SoftBank) and Hughes Network Systems LLC (Hughes), bringing OneWeb’s total funding to $1.4 billion.

The investments made on Friday by Hughes and SoftBank will help realise the full potential of OneWeb in connecting enterprise, government and mobility customers, especially with multi-transport services that complement our own geostationary offerings in meeting accelerating demand for broadband around the world, the company said in a statement.

The capital raised to date positions the company to be fully funded for its first-generation satellite fleet, totaling 648 satellites, by the end of 2022, it said.

In July last year, Bharti had bid jointly with the UK government for the auction to acquire OneWeb and invested around $500 million each. OneWeb had declared bankruptcy earlier in 2020.

Also read: OneWeb launches 36 LEO satellites on Soyuz rocket

In connection with the investment, SoftBank will gain a seat on the OneWeb Board of Directors. Hughes is an investor through its parent company EchoStar, and also an ecosystem partner, developing essential ground network technology for the OneWeb system.

"SoftBank and Hughes 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," Sunil Bharti Mittal, Executive Chairman of OneWeb, said.

OneWeb’s mission is to deliver broadband connectivity worldwide to bridge the global digital divide by offering everyone, everywhere access including to the Internet of things (IoT) future and a pathway to 5G.

“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," Masayoshi Son, Representative Director, Corporate Officer, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SoftBank, said.

OneWeb’s LEO satellite system includes a network of global gateway stations and a range of user terminals for different customer markets capable of delivering affordable, fast, high-bandwidth and low-latency communications services.

In December 2020, OneWeb launched 36 new satellites, built at its Airbus Joint Venture assembly plant in Florida, USA, bringing the company’s total fleet to 110 satellites, all fully-functioning and benefitting from International Telecommunication Union spectrum priority.

The launch of 36 satellites from a Soyuz launch vehicle began from the Vostochny Cosmodrome (Russia). This was part of OneWeb’s 648 LEO satellite fleet that will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity.

Also read: OneWeb re-born: Mittal plans India trials next year


Published on January 15, 2021

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