Satellite project raises $500 million for network

Satellite project raises $500 million for network

Prospective satellite operator OneWeb has raised $500 million in its first round of funding for what it claims will be the world’s largest internet satellite network.

The fundraising attracted investment from Bharti Enterprises, Intelsat, Airbus Group, Qualcomm, Virgin Group, Hughes Network Systems, Coca-Cola and Totalplay.

The joint venture will design and manufacture 900 satellites and deploy a network of 648 satellites in orbit at any one time. 

"The dream of fully bridging the digital divide is on track to be a reality in 2019," said Greg Wyler, founder of OneWeb. In 2007, Wyler founded O3b,a satellite company aimed at serving the "other three billion" who are not yet connected to the internet. 

"We are committed to solving one of the world's biggest problems - enabling affordable broadband Internet access for everyone. We are excited about the next phase, which will involve working with countries, telecom operators and aid organisations to help them realise their goals of open and ubiquitous access."  

The funding will enable the company, based in the UK Channel Islands, to further develop key technologies to enable affordable broadband for rural and underdeveloped locations. 

The company said its user terminals can be solar powered with embedded LTE, 3G, 2G and Wifi access capabilities, which will extend operators' reach. In addition the network is said to provide low latency access to ships, planes, train and oil platform as well as interoperability with Intelsat’s fleet of Ku band satellites.