OneWeb raises another $1.25bn for small satellites

OneWeb raises another $1.25bn for small satellites

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The fundraising follows the sucessful launch of the first six satellites last month and was led by SoftBank, Grupo Salinas, Qualcomm Technologies and the Government of Rwanda, bringing the total raised to $3.4bn.

OneWeb’s fleet of 650 small satellites is intended to deliver global high speed, low latency, seamless broadband access from 2021.

“This latest funding round, our largest to date, makes OneWeb’s service inevitable and is a vote of confidence from our core investor base in our business model and the OneWeb value proposition,” said Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb. “With the recent successful launch of our first six satellites, near-completion of our innovative satellite manufacturing facility with our partner Airbus, progress towards fully securing our ITU priority spectrum position, and the signing of our first customer contracts, OneWeb is moving from the planning and development stage to deployment of our full constellation. Our success is made possible thanks to the backing of our investors and the cooperation of our world class commercial partners including Arianespace, Airbus, Qualcomm Technologies, Virgin, and Hughes.”

The satellites are produced through a joint venture with Airbus called OneWeb Satellites in Exploration Park, Florida.By the end of the year, OneWeb will begin monthly launches of more than 30 satellites at a time, creating an initial constellation of 650 satellites to enable full global coverage. After this first phase, OneWeb will add more satellites to its constellation to meet growing demands.

“OneWeb has extended its first-mover advantage and is on track to become the world’s largest and first truly global communications network. At SoftBank, our aim is to invest in transformative companies at the leading edge of technology disruption. OneWeb’s potential is undeniable as the growth in data from 5G, IoT, autonomous driving and other new technologies drives demand for capacity above and beyond the limits of the existing infrastructure,” said Marcelo Claure, COO of SoftBank Group Corp. and CEO of SoftBank Group International.

A key part of the roll out is priority rights to a large block of globally harmonized spectrum to provide connectivity for rural communities and schools as well as for business and industries that need seamless global connectivity such as aviation, maritime, backhaul, and land mobility.

“I have worked for over 20 years to bring network access to people throughout Mexico and Latin America and have seen first-hand the power of connectivity to change and improve lives. OneWeb will have the ability to reach places that have previously been impossible to connect. We are proud to be supporting Adrian and the entire OneWeb team and are looking forward to creating new opportunities for people everywhere,” said Ricardo Salinas, Founder and Chairman of Grupo Salinas.

To support the deployment of the system, OneWeb uses satellite operation centres in London and Virginia, with ground stations in Italy, Norway, and Canada.

This is just one of several fleets of low earth orbit nano-satellites being developed for launch over the next few years.

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