The UK satellite firm has now raised around $2.7 billion, exceeding the total needed to launch their full constellation
Since its rescue from bankruptcy by the UK government and Bharti Airtel back in 2020, UK satellite broadband player OneWeb has been going to strength to strength.
In January 2021, SoftBank and Hughes Network System announced they would invest an additional $400 million into the company, bringing the companies total investment to $1.4 billion. By March, OneWeb had began launching low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites into orbit but warned that it would need to raise another billion dollars to reach its goal of global coverage in 2022 using around 648 satellites.
European satellite player Eutelsat was the next investor
to step up to the plate, in April providing $550 million and bringing OneWeb’s total funding to around $1.9 billion.
This investment has since proven problematic for Eutelsat, however, with the European Union suggesting that it represents a conflict of interest
with regards to the EU’s own planned LEO satellite constellation, in which Eutelsat was set to play a key role.
Nonetheless, this investment left OneWeb just $500 million short of its target for attaining global coverage. In July, the company launched its latest batch of satellites, bringing the total in orbit to 254 – enough to soon begin commercial services for a large portion of the Northern hemisphere.
OneWeb has said that it will primarily offer enterprises, governments, and the maritime industry its connectivity services, though a recent deal
with BT suggests that the connectivity could be rolled out to commercial consumers in some of the UK’s most remote areas.
With the OneWeb constellation’s commercial launch on the horizon, Bharti Airtel announced they would increase their stake
in the company, providing the final $500 million required for the global coverage goal.
But despite reaching their investment goal (or perhaps because of it), the flurry of investor interest in OneWeb has not yet abated. Today, South Korea’s Hanwha Systems has announced it will take an 8.8% in the company, investing $300 million.
“Hanwha brings advanced defence and antenna technology development to the OneWeb line-up,” said Neil Masterson, OneWeb CEO. “We are all delighted that they have chosen to join us on this journey of innovation, shaping a global service to connect the most remote locations and to provide a critical digital pathway from space to our interconnected world.”
Where exactly this additional funding will be directed is yet to be seen, but OneWeb has previously announced that it already has approval to launch a total of 2,000 satellites, 1,280 of which would be larger, next-generation models, so-called medium Earth orbit devices that will sit higher in the sky and provide broader coverage.
OneWeb’s next batch of satellites are set to launch later this month.
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