OneWeb’s next batch of satellites are scheduled to launch on September 14th. Quilty says that following the launch, “OneWeb will have deployed about half of its 648-satellite constellation and be on track to reach two-thirds deployment by the end of 2021. Since its Chapter 11 filing in March 2020, the company has raised $2.7 billion in equity financing from strong investors in Asia, Europe and the US who believe that OneWeb has excellent business prospects and that it can also be an enabler to help each of them accomplish their own strategic priorities.”
Chris Quilty, Partner of Quilty Analytics, said, “After evaluating SpaceX’s Starlink and Telesat’s Lightspeed constellations we now turn our attention to OneWeb. Through these studies, we have advised clients on the market opportunities for LEO broadband systems, along with the challenges each LEO operator faces in achieving sufficient revenue to realize an attractive ROI. We believe OneWeb is well positioned based on several important advantages.”
Those advantages include, according to Quilty,
- A far lower cost system, reduced by ~$3.4 billion through OneWeb’s Chapter 11 process, which means the company’s revenue goals are more attainable, though certainly still significant with needed run-rate revenue of $1 billion or more.
- OneWeb will be first to market with global coverage in 2022, potentially two-to-three years ahead of other LEO broadband systems targeting Enterprise verticals.
- Strong backing from major shareholders – the UK Government, Bharti Airtel, Eutelsat, SoftBank, Hanwha and Hughes. Each sees important synergies from aligning with OneWeb and all are eager to apply their respective capabilities in supporting OneWeb’s success.
Quilty’s report added, “OneWeb still has to execute and overcome other challenges that we discuss in our briefing, but we conclude that if OneWeb does not reach its targeted revenue goal of $1 billion by ~2026, it is hard to see how LEO competitors that have far higher capex and come later will be able to do much better.”
Moving on to Amazon who, in a formal letter to the FCC last week, has objected to SpaceX’s enhanced plan for almost 30,000 new Starlink satellites and their adjusted orbits.
SpaceX, in two submissions, said it could offer a better service by adjusting the existing, planned orbits.
Amazon, which is developing its own LEO system — Project Kuiper/Kuiper Systems — said that SpaceX, by filing two separate submissions, is breaking the FCC’s own rules which insist that details need to be agreed and settled upon before filing such applications.
Amazon also complains that the SpaceX ‘double application’ also doubles the amount of work they have to do in terms of potential interference and their worries about orbital collision and debris.
Amazon’s FCC letter said, “By leaving nearly every major detail unsettled—such as altitude, inclination, and even the total number of satellites—SpaceX’s application fails every test [of the FCC’s rules]. And with respect to the requirement that license applications contain a ‘comprehensive proposal’, SpaceX’s proposed amendment contains either two comprehensive proposals or none at all. The effects cascade throughout SpaceX’s entire amendment. As one example, SpaceX is forced to seek a waiver of “the limitations in Schedule S” because, among other reasons, Schedule S does not allow it to “properly characterize the relationship between [its] two orbital configurations.”
Kuiper is asking the FCC to enforce its own rules and for the FCC “to invite SpaceX to resubmit its amendment after settling on a single configuration for its Gen2 System.”