OneWeb has announced the emergence from U.S Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and achievement of all relevant regulatory approvals along with an investment of $1 bn of new equity by a consortium of UK Government to offer broadband connectivity services via a constellation of 650 LEO satellites.
UK Government and Bharti Global have been confirmed as the new owners of OneWeb. OneWeb will continue to operate out of UK bringing in new R&D programmes, manufacturing opportunities and a global platform with priority spectrum usage rights. OneWeb aims to ensure that the UK is at the foresight of a new commercial space industrial age and will work closely with UK commercial and academic space communities in its research.
“These are exciting times and the world now has a LEO alternative to work with. We look forward to partnering with those equally determined to enter this new Space Age. There is unmet demand around the globe for broadband connectivity and we intend to continue OneWeb’s social mission. We will use our joint venture facility to drive down cost of service, opening new use cases for low latency broadband provision. This new phase and focus for the Company brings new leadership with Neil Masterson, who has extensive experience in operating global technology platforms in a complex industry undergoing rapid change. Together with our UK Government as partners, we recognised that OneWeb has valuable global spectrum with priority rights, and we benefit from $3.3bn invested to-date and from the satellites already in orbit, securing our usage rights. I would like to thank Adrian Steckel for his valued contribution.”
Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises
OneWeb will also have a new management with Sunil Bharti Mittal as the Executive Chairman and Neil Masterson as the Chief Executive Officer who succeeds Adrian Steckel who guided OneWeb through three successful launches including 74 satellites being driven into the orbit along with priority spectrum use rights for OneWeb.
“This strategic investment demonstrates Government’s commitment to the UK’s space sector in the long-term and our ambition to put Britain at the cutting edge of the latest advances in space technology. “Access to our own global fleet of satellites has the potential to connect people worldwide, providing fast UK-backed broadband from the Shetlands to the Sahara and from Pole to Pole. “This deal gives us the chance to build on our strong advanced manufacturing and services base in the UK, creating jobs and technical expertise,” said UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma.
OneWeb has also announced that in the second half of December 2020 it will return with a 36 satellite payload scheduled from launch by Arianespace for which the satellites have been shipped from Florida to Vostochny and now undergoing preparation for launch.
The joint venture facility with Airbus has been re-activated in Florida with dual production lines brought back into service. The launches will continue through 2021 and 2022 with OneWeb now back on track for commercial connectivity services in the UK and the arctic region in late 2021 will expand to global services in 2022.