Venture Capital: SoftBank And Hughes Invest $400M In Satellite Internet Operator OneWeb
A consortium of investors including India’s Bharti Global and the UK government acquired OneWeb in bankruptcy proceedings.
The latest investment, comprising $350 million from SoftBank (TYO:9984) and $50 million from Echostar (NASDAQ: SATS) owned Hughes Network Systems, will allow OneWeb to continue the deployment of its initial 648-satellite constellation. (SPACENEWS)
In a statement, OneWeb said it had now raised $1.4 billion in financing. It confirmed that it was now sufficiently funded for its first-generation satellite fleet, expected to be placed in low earth orbit (LEO) by end-2022.
The company’s LEO satellite system includes a network of global gateway stations and a range of user terminals for different customer markets. The system is capable of delivering affordable, fast, high-bandwidth and low-latency communications services including a pathway to 5G internet.
OneWeb resumes satellite launch
OneWeb re-commenced the launch of its satellites on December 18, 2020, after emerging from bankruptcy.
It had deployed 36 new satellites, built at its Airbus Joint Venture assembly plant in Florida, USA. That brought the company’s total fleet to 110 satellites, all fully-functioning and benefiting from International Telecommunication Union spectrum priority.
OneWeb hopes to begin services by the fall of 2021 at latitudes above 50° North, with enough satellites expected to be in space by then as per its current launch schedule.
It will roll out its global service by 2022, by which time it hopes to complete the deployment of the full constellation.
“We have made rapid progress to re-start the business since emerging from Chapter 11 in November,” said Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb. “We welcome the investments by SoftBank and Hughes as further proof of progress towards delivering our goal.”
According to SpaceNews, Sunil Bharti Mittal, who is executive chairman of OneWeb, estimated last month that the company would need $2.5 billion to complete its first constellation.
Therefore, about half of that amount still needs to be funded. Mittal is confident of raising that amount.
Mittal commented on the investment by SoftBank and Hughes: “Both are deeply familiar with our business, share our vision for the future, and their commitment allows us to capitalize 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.”
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