OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company jointly owned by the UK government and Bharti Global, secured additional funding from SoftBank Group Corp and Hughes Network Systems LLC, bringing its total funding to $1.4 billion.
The capital raised so far positions the company to be fully funded for its first-generation satellite fleet, totaling 648 satellites, by the end of 2022, said a statement.
Post the investment, SoftBank will gain a seat on OneWeb’s 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.
“OneWeb’s mission is to deliver broadband connectivity worldwide to bridge the global Digital Divide by offering everyone, everywhere access including to the Internet of Things (IoT) future and a pathway to 5G,” it said.
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 2020, OneWeb launched 36 new satellites, built at its Airbus Joint Venture assembly plant in Florida, US, bringing the company’s total fleet to 110 satellites, all fully-functioning and benefitting 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.”
OneWeb gains from the experience and capabilities of the investors, Mittal said.
Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of SoftBank, said that: “We are excited to support OneWeb as it increases capacity and accelerates towards commercialisation. 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, said that OneWeb continues to inspire the industry and attract the best players in the business to come together to bring its LEO constellation to fruition.
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 to delivering our goal.”