UK IN SATELLITE INTERNET BUSINESS - OneWeb
The United Kingdom and an Indian telecom giant are going into the satellite business together. The British government and Bharti Enterprises have bought OneWeb satellite company for $1 billion. The company was founded by US entrepreneur Greg Wyler with the purpose of providing internet everywhere to everyone with 648 low Earth satellites in orbit.
Rolling the Space Dice
This is a new lease on life for OneWeb and a gamble with potentially big payouts for the UK and Bharti. OneWeb was purchased out of bankruptcy by the UK and Bharti within the past week. OneWeb filed for backruptcy late in March 2020 after its biggest financial backer SoftBank refused to provide anymore funding. At the time of the filing, OneWeb had 74 satellites in orbit.
UK Mission and Goals
The UK is looking to add positioning technology to new satellites in order to beef up the American GPS system it uses. It's also replacing bandwidth it is losing with the EU's Galileo network because of Brexit. There are estimates that the UK and Bharti will have to invest at least an additional $1 billion to bring OneWeb up to its full potential of providing continuous global internet service.
OneWeb is far from alone in the endeavor to provide universal internet through satellite constellations. SpaceX and CEO entrepreneur Elon Musk are building a rival constellation network Starlink, now composed of about 400 satellites. When the number of OneWeb satellites hits 200, it may be able to go commercial. It's expected to first provide coverage at the North and South Poles for prospective military and gas & oil exploration customers. OneWeb is dual headquartered in the US and UK and needs to secure regulatory approvals for the purchase.