OneWeb is a step closer to delivering high-speed broadband access everywhere on Earth after securing $1.25 billion from investors.
The global communications company’s mission is to bring connectivity to everyone, everywhere, and this is its largest fundraising round to date. The new funds will help the company, of which the Virgin Group is a founder investor, to accelerate the development of the first truly global communications network by 2021.
OneWeb is launching a constellation of satellites to provide connectivity across the globe. Its first satellites were successfully launched in February 2019. Once the full constellation of satellites is in position, the system will connect the billions of people who are not currently connected. This will provide people in remote and rural area with affordable high-speed internet access, and will open up huge opportunities for development, education and entrepreneurship, bridging the digital divide.
This fundraising round, led by SoftBank Group Corp, Grupo Salinas, Qualcomm Technologies Inc. and the Government of Rwanda, brings the total funds raised to $3.4 billion.
“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 produced its satellites through a joint venture with Airbus. It will now ramp up manufacture of the satellites at its new state-of-the-art facility in Exploration Park, Florida.
OneWeb is embarking on the largest satellite launch campaign in history, with monthly launches of more than 30 satellites at a time planned to begin towards the end of 2019. Initially, 650 satellites will orbit the earth to enable full global coverage. After this first phase, OneWeb plans to add more satellites to the constellation to meet growing demands.
OneWeb’s network will go beyond the limits of existing infrastructure. It will enable connectivity for rural communities and schools, as well as for businesses and industries that require seamless, global connectivity solutions, such as aviation, maritime 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,” 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.”