OneWeb, a UK-based company that aims to spread internet access by building a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites, has raised $500 million of funding with a group of international companies.
OneWeb has attracted investment from Airbus Group, Bharti Enterprises, Hughes Network Systems, (Hughes), a subsidiary of EchoStar Corp, Intelsat, Qualcomm Incorporated, The Coca-Cola Company, Totalplay, a Grupo Salinas Company, owned by Ricardo B. Salinas, and Virgin Group.
The funding will allow OneWeb to develop technologies to enable affordable broadband for rural and underdeveloped locations.
Sunil Bharti Mittal, founder and chairman of Bharti Enterprises and Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus Group, will join Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, Dr. Paul Jacobs, executive chairman of Qualcomm Incorporated, and Greg Wyler, founder of OneWeb, on the Board of Directors.
Each of the other founding shareholders, who will also be Board observers, will continue to advise the company and support the programme directly through provision of technical and manufacturing expertise, launch capabilities, and enabling access to potential customers.
OneWeb also said that it had acquired more than 65 rockets including 21 Soyuz launch orders from Arianespace and 39 launches from Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne. This follows closely from OneWeb’s announcement on June 15 of its joint venture with Airbus Defence and Space to design and manufacture its first 900 microsatellites.
“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.”