OneWeb, jointly owned by the UK Government and Bharti Global, has secured additional funding from SoftBank Group Corp. (“SoftBank”) and Hughes Network Systems LLC (“Hughes”), bringing OneWeb’s total funding to $1.4 billion. 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.
OneWeb’s mission is to deliver broadband connectivity worldwide to bridge the global Digital Divide by offering everyone, everywhere, access that includes the Internet of Things (IoT) future and a pathway to 5G. 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 of 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 benefiting from International Telecommunication Union spectrum priority.
Sunil Bharti Mittal, Executive Chairman of OneWeb, commented, “We are delighted to welcome the investment from SoftBank and Hughes. 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, Representative Director, Corporate Officer, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank, said, “We are excited to support OneWeb as it increases capacity and accelerates towards commercialization. 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.”
Pradman Kaul, President of Hughes, remarked, “OneWeb continues to inspire the industry and attract the best players in the business to come together to bring its LEO constellation to fruition. The investments made today by Hughes and SoftBank will help realize 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 and accelerating demand for broadband around the world.”
Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb, added, “OneWeb’s mission is to connect everyone, everywhere. We have made rapid progress to re-start the business since emerging from Chapter 11 in November. We welcome the investments by SoftBank and Hughes as further proof of progress towards delivering our goal.”
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.
Additionally, the firm has reduced its request for US market access from 47,884 to 6,372 satellites. Together with the satellites for which it is already licensed by the FCC, the total constellation size will be roughly 7,000, down from the 48,000 or so proposed last year.
According to the company, this solidification of their constellation demonstrates the commitment and vision of OneWeb’s new owners, the UK Government and Bharti Global, who are dedicated to deploying a cost effective, responsible, and groundbreaking satellite network to deliver global broadband.
The firm stated that OneWeb remains focused on launching its first-generation system of 648 satellites and is on track to start regional commercial services within a year. This streamlining of activities highlights OneWeb’s plan for global connectivity services and for future generations and possibilities for the network.