Softbank invests $350m in OneWeb

Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite operator OneWeb has announced that it has secured $350 million in additional funding from SoftBank Group, as well as $50 million from Hughes Network Systems, to bring its total funding to $1.4 billion since being bought out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy by the UK Government and Bharti Global in a $1 billion deal.

The company says that the capital raised to date now positions OneWeb to be fully funded for its first-generation satellite fleet, totalling 648 satellites, by the end of 2022.

SoftBank will gain a seat on the OneWeb Board of Directors following the new funding agreement. Hughes is an investor through its parent company EchoStar, and also an ecosystem partner, developing ground network technology for the OneWeb system.

Both SoftBank and Hughes were previous investors in OneWeb prior to its bankruptcy, with the Chapter 11 process having begun after OneWeb failed in attempts to secure additional funding from SoftBank in early 2020.

“We are excited to support OneWeb as it increases capacity and accelerates towards commercialisation. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Bharti, the UK Government and Hughes to help OneWeb deliver on its mission to transform internet access around the world,” said Masayoshi Son, Representative Director, Corporate Officer, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank.

OneWeb recently streamlined its long-term constellation plans, reducing its request for US market access from 47,884 to 6,372 satellites. Together with the satellites for which it is already licensed by the US FCC (Federal Communications Commission) the total constellation size will be roughly 7,000, the company said.

In December 2020, OneWeb launched 36 new satellites, built at its Airbus Joint Venture assembly plant in Florida, USA, bringing the total current functioning fleet to 110 satellites.

“OneWeb’s mission is to connect everyone, everywhere. We have made rapid progress to re-start the business since emerging from Chapter 11 in November. We welcome the investments by SoftBank and Hughes as further proof of progress towards delivering our goal,” said Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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