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$500m committed for OneWeb global satellite internet network Featured

OneWeb aims to develop satellite user terminals with integrated 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi connectiviy OneWeb aims to develop satellite user terminals with integrated 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi connectiviy Photo: OneWeb

Global satellite broadband start-up OneWeb has announced that it has raised $500 million in funding from a group of international companies, including Intelsat, Coca-Cola and previously announced partner Airbus.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}Other investors include Bharti Enterprises, Hughes Network Systems and Totalplay, a Grupo Salinas Company, owned by Ricardo B. Salinas. The Virgin Group and Qualcomm Incorporated, earlier investors in OneWeb, have also contributed in this funding round.

OneWeb says that the $500 million will allow the company to further develop key technologies for its proposed global broadband service, including its OneWeb User Terminals which will have optional solar power and embedded LTE, 3G, 2G and Wi-Fi access capabilities. The network will aim to provide high-speed, low latency satellite internet access to ships, planes, trains and oil platforms.

Intelsat, as well as investing $25 million in the company, has also agreed a commercial arrangement which will see it partner with OneWeb to use the new low Earth orbit (LEO) platform to complement its own Ku-band geostationary orbit (GEO) satellite services.

The companies will additionally collaborate on developing hybrid LEO/GEO end-user access terminals for use across the two networks.

OneWeb has agreed to develop its platform to provide network interoperability with Intelsat’s global EpicNG GEO infrastructure and service offerings, which Intelsat says will enable OneWeb to coordinate the provision of services over the equatorial regions, where GEO services have spectral priority.

The agreement also includes a firm service commitment from Intelsat for OneWeb services upon commencement of operations, which is currently estimated for 2019.

Intelsat says this service commitment is in exchange for exclusivity granted to Intelsat for distribution of OneWeb’s services within the maritime and aeronautical sector verticals, and for certain other US government, oil and gas, connected car and rail customer rights.

Looking ahead to the launch of the constellation, following the announcement on June 15 of its joint venture with Airbus Group (pending regulatory approvals) to design and manufacture its first 900 microsatellites, OneWeb has also announced what it says is the largest commercial rocket acquisition ever, of more than 65 rockets.

This includes 21 Soyuz launch orders from Arianespace and 39 launches from Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne.

“The dream of fully bridging the digital divide is on track to be a reality in 2019,” said Greg Wyler, founder of OneWeb.

“Together with our committed and visionary founding shareholders we have the key elements in place: regulatory, technology, launches, satellites, as well as commercial operators in over 50 countries and territories. We are committed to solving one of the world’s biggest problems – enabling affordable broadband internet access for everyone.”

“We are excited about the next phase, which will involve working with countries, telecom operators and aid organisations to help them realise their goals of open and ubiquitous access.”{/mprestriction}

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