Space startup OneWeb raises $1.25 billion led by SoftBank to mass produce high-speed internet satellites
Last month, we wrote about OneWeb when the space startup successfully launched its first high-speed satellites into orbit. Now the startup company is armed with a $1.25 billion war chest to launch 650 satellites into orbit over the next two years. The came said it has secured its largest fundraising round to date with the successful raise of $1.25 billion in new capital led by SoftBank Group Corp., Grupo Salinas, Qualcomm Technologies Inc., and the Government of Rwanda. The latest capital infusion brings its total funding raise to date to $3.4 billion.
The new funds, following the successful first launch of OneWeb’s satellites, enable the company to accelerate the development of the first truly global communications network by 2021. OneWeb’s system will deliver high speed, low latency, seamless broadband access, everywhere on Earth.
Founded in 2011 by Greg Wyler, its mission is to address the most demanding global connectivity challenges and sudden infrastructure crises. OneWeb is the first to launch 5G network in space. Its mission is to enable Internet access for everyone, everywhere. OneWeb is building a communications network with a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites that will provide connectivity to billions of people around the world. Its high speed, low latency network will offer game-changing mobility solutions to industries that rely on global connectivity.
“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 Inc., Virgin, and Hughes.”
OneWeb’s satellites, produced through its joint venture with Airbus doing business as “OneWeb Satellites”, will ramp-up production this spring at its new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Exploration Park, Florida. Following the company’s successful launch of satellites on February 27th, OneWeb will embark on the largest satellite launch campaign in history. Starting in Q4, 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.
On the additional investment, Marcelo Claure, COO of SoftBank Group Corp. and CEO of SoftBank Group International said: “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.”
OneWeb’s priority rights to a large block of globally harmonized spectrum and its Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation design will enable a unique combination of high speed, low latency, and truly global service. OneWeb’s network will go beyond the limits of existing infrastructure, enabling connectivity for rural communities and schools as well as for business and industries that demand seamless global connectivity solutions such as Aviation, Maritime, Backhaul, and Land Mobility. OneWeb’s customers will be able to develop and support a wide range of emerging applications that require real-time communication and collaboration.
“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.
Greg Wyler, Chairman and Founder of OneWeb, added “We are committed to bridging the digital divide, and this funding helps ensure our globally shared dream will soon become a reality. We look forward to continuing our work with the many supportive and forward-looking Governments, ISP’s, and Telecom Operators to help them broaden the reach of connectivity to connect people everywhere.”
OneWeb’s network will provide services to billions and will support the emerging digital economy and advanced mobile application needs. To support the deployment of the system, OneWeb relies on high-tech satellite operation centers in both Virginia and in London, and has installed ground stations in Italy, Norway, and Canada, with more on the way. A global company, OneWeb now has offices in Virginia, London, Florida, California, and has recruited top talent around the world to execute the rollout of its system.