OneWeb will live: UK buys 20% of the company for $ 500 million
On March 28, OneWeb, a global satellite Internet service provider, filed for bankruptcy . Its position has weakened due to the coronavirus pandemic, the ensuing economic crisis, and intense competition from Amazon and SpaceX. In addition, the company was refused to provide the frequencies necessary for working in Russia - the country's special services opposed.
At the beginning of the year, the provider was supposed to receive an additional $ 2 billion from its investor, SoftBank, but the epidemic violated plans. Negotiations failed on March 21, a few hours before the successful launch of 34 OneWeb satellites into orbit. The company had to resort to bankruptcy proceedings to protect against creditors. The media began to publish articles about the problems of satellite Internet in the future, but it seems that everything is not so bad. A few days ago, the United Kingdom stated about the intention to buy 20% of the company for $ 500 million . And these are not just statements - an agreement has been signed.
The document was signed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Finance Minister Rishi Sunak. Finally, the issue will be resolved on July 10 . For the UK, this is a great opportunity to get your own navigation system. After leaving the European Union, the country lost the ability to use Galileo satellites, so now the government is looking for alternatives. Initially, it was planned to create its own system from scratch, but this project turned out to be unbearable even for such a developed country as Great Britain. OneWeb previously stated that it will provide not only communications services, but a GPS service for civilian and military purposes.
Despite the start of the bankruptcy procedure, the company did not seem to intend to stop its activities at all. So, on May 28, she submitted an application to the US Federal Communications Commission to expand her satellite constellation from 720 to 48 thousand. According to company representatives, such a step will provide an opportunity to provide high-quality communications to absolutely all users of satellite Internet.
“OneWeb is building a truly global communications network to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband connectivity worldwide. Our current situation is the result of the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, ”said Adrian Stekel, CEO on Twitter.
For OneWeb, collaboration and partnership with the British government is an opportunity to avoid bankruptcy. The company's assets are of great interest to many companies - for example, Cerberus Capital Management, Amazon, Eutelsat and SpaceX have previously submitted applications for their acquisition.
As for the work of OneWeb, the company is not going to deliver communication services directly to consumers, but to cooperate with the largest telecommunication companies in the world. According to the plan, it is the partners of the satellite Internet provider that should provide their customers access to communication from OneWeb. Satellite Internet would be very useful for remote and inaccessible regions and ships. According to company representatives, the user can be in a car, a helicopter, on top of a mountain, anywhere in the world - communication will always be available.
Initially, OneWeb's plans were rather modest: the satellite constellation was supposed to consist of 588 devices and several backup devices. The production of one device costs the company $ 1 million . Some satellites have already been launched and entered the calculated orbit.
In addition to OneWeb, their own constellations of communication satellites form in orbit SpaceX Ilona Mask, Project Kuiper Jeff Bezos, the head of Amazon, and the Canadian company Telesat. The devices will be placed in low orbits in order to ensure minimum signal delay and high data rate.