|Industry||Satellite Internet access|
|Headquarters||London, England, UK|
|Neil Masterson (CEO)|
Number of employees
|~80 (March 2020)|
OneWeb (legally Network Access Associates Ltd) –OneWeb Satellites –that is a joint venture with Airbus Defence and Space. The company was formerly known as WorldVu Satellites Ltd.is a global communications company building a capability to deliver broadband satellite internet services worldwide. The company is headquartered in London, and has offices in California and a satellite manufacturing facility in Florida
The company was founded by Greg Wyler in 2012and launched its first satellites in February 2019. It entered bankruptcy in March 2020 after failing to raise the requisite capital to complete the build and deployment of the remaining 90% of the network. The company emerged from the bankruptcy proceedings and reorganization in November 2020 with a new ownership group, led by the Government of the United Kingdom and Indian multinational company Bharti Global, each holding 42% of the company equity and board. OneWeb re-affirmed its intent to continue to build out the satellite constellation. SoftBank retained an equity holding of 12%. As further investments are made to complete the first phase satellite deployments, the British Government and Bharti Global percentage shareholding will decline.
OneWeb commenced launches of the OneWeb satellite constellation, a network of more than 650 low Earth orbit satellites, in February 2019,and by May 2021, had launched 218 of the planned 648 satellites in the initial constellation. OneWeb's goal has been to provide internet services to "everyone, everywhere", delivering internet connections to rural and remote places as well as to a range of markets.
The company was founded in 2012 under the name WorldVu,and was based in Britain's Channel Islands.
In 2015, OneWeb secured US$500 million in funding, and agreed to purchase certain future launch services, from existing aerospace industry companies Arianespace and Virgin Galactic.In June 2015, OneWeb also entered into a deal with Airbus Defence and Space for the construction of its broadband Internet satellites after a competition among American and European manufacturers.
In July 2016, one year after the initial announcement, OneWeb stated they were on schedule.In December 2016, OneWeb raised US$1 billion from SoftBank Group Corp. and US$200 million from existing investors.
In February 2017, OneWeb announced that it expected to sell all of its capacity by launch time.At the time, it had formally announced capacity sold for a joint Gogo and Intelsat venture. OneWeb's founder and then executive chairman Greg Wyler announced he was considering nearly quadrupling the size of the satellite constellation by adding 1972 additional satellites that OneWeb had priority rights to. With the original capital raise of US$500 million in 2015, plus the US$1 billion investment of SoftBank in 2016, previous "investors committed to an additional US$200 million, bringing OneWeb's total capital raised to US$1.7 billion". A merger arrangement with Intelsat that had been in negotiations during May 2017 collapsed in June 2017 and did not go forward.
By 2019, OneWeb had formed a joint venture, OneWeb Satellites, with the European company Airbus Defence and Space in order to manufacture its satellites in higher volume and at lower cost than any satellites previously built by Airbus. A manufacturing facility was built in Merritt Island, Florida. Initial satellite production at the new facility began in mid-2019 and by January 2020, the factory reached the target production rate of two satellites per day.
On 27 February 2019, OneWeb successfully launched its first six satellites into 1,200 km low Earth orbit from the Centre Spatial Guyanais in French Guiana using a Soyuz-2 launch vehicle. The same day OneWeb announced that it signed its first two client agreements marking the beginning of its commercialization. On 18 March 2019, OneWeb announced it had secured US$1.25 billion in funding following a successful first launch. The funding was from existing investors SoftBank and Qualcomm, as well as Grupo Salinas and the Government of Rwanda.
By August 2019, the company had 6 of its satellites broadcasting at the right frequencies for 90 days, meeting the "use-it-or-lose-it" spectrum conditions set by the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union (ITU).This secured the vital rights OneWeb needed to operate its global satellite broadband network.
In February and March 2020, the company launched an additional 68 satellites to orbit, stating that it would slow down for a minor design modification to be made before planning to launch again in May 2020.
On 27 March 2020, OneWeb Global Limited and 18 affiliates filed for bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.The company said the decision has been made because of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company laid off approximately 85% of its approximately 500 employees, but retained the capability to control its operational satellites during the period of court protection.
On 3 July 2020, a consortium led Bharti Global and the Government of the United Kingdom won the auction to purchase the bankrupt company.The sale closed in November, allowing the company to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
On 3 July 2020, the Government of the United Kingdom and Sunil Mittal's Bharti Global (formerly a partner of OneWeb) announced a joint plan to invest US$500 million each for equal stakes in OneWeb Global, approximately 42% each; the rest would be held by other creditors including Softbank. The UK government would also hold a golden share to give it control over any future sales.The plan was approved by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on 10 July 2020, and the deal closed in November 2020, allowing OneWeb to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
In July 2020, Hughes Network Systems invested US$50 million in the consortium.The same month, the UK government stated an intention to repurpose the OneWeb satellites for its own Global Navigation Satellite System.
Shortly after the July public announcement of the OneWeb sale, a letter from Sam Beckett, the leading civil servant in the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), was released. In the letter, Beckett raised concerns that taxpayers' money could be at risk. The comments were made as part of a request for "ministerial direction", therefore it was required that the letter be made public and any concerns raised be formally overruled. BEIS minister Alok Sharma overrode the concerns and proceeded with the bid.
On 21 September 2020, OneWeb announced that it was set to resume launching satellites for its global broadband network in December 2020 under a modified 16-launch contract with Arianespace.The December payloads would ride to orbit aboard a Soyuz rocket and Fregat upper stage launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia, according to Arianespace, and additional satellites were to be launched later from Russia, Kazakhstan, and French Guiana.
In November 2020, the company announced that Neil Masterson, formerly chief operating officer at media company Thomson Reuters, had been appointed CEO.The company launched 36 additional satellites on 17 December 2020. Furthermore, OneWeb announced plans to accelerate launches in 2021 so that the 650 satellites necessary for global coverage would be in orbit by 2022.
In January 2021, a further funding round raised $400 million from SoftBank and Hughes Network Systems, with SoftBank getting a director seat on OneWeb's board. This brought available funding to $1.4 billion, which "positions the company" to fund its first-generation fleet of 648 satellites, but would be insufficient to fund full deployment of the constellation by mid-2022. OneWeb chairman, Sunil Mittal, estimated about a further $1 billion is required, but did not anticipate difficulty in raising that.
In April 2021, OneWeb launched its sixth batch of satellites to orbit. It comprised 36 units, bringing the total in-orbit constellation to 182.In the same month, it was also reported that Eutelsat was putting £400M into the company, in return for a 24% equity stake. Eutelsat's stake decreased to 19.3% when Bharti Global increased its holding in June 2021.
In May 2021, OneWeb was asked by the UK Space Agency to lead a consortium of space companies working to develop a satellite that can beam hop, meaning it can change which part of the world it covers. The consortium includes SatixFy, Celestia UK, and Astroscale UK.That same month, OneWeb announced plans to buy TrustComm, a U.S.-based managed satellite communications provider. After the purchase, the company became OneWeb's government distribution partner.
In May 2021, OneWeb's seventh launch took the number of satellites in orbit to 218, to create the second largest fleet behind Starlink.
In June 2021, Oneweb raised an additional US$500M from Bharti Global, increasing Bharti's holding to 38.6%.In August 2021, Hanwha Systems invested $300 million to purchase an 8.8% share in OneWeb, enabling Hanwha to appoint one member of the board of directors and bring its own dual-use defense and satellite technology to the company.
OneWeb became the founding member of Indian Space Association (ISpA). ISpA will act as bridge between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and private industries to form the space ecosystem in India.
In March 2021, OneWeb stated its market will be primarily to businesses, governments including defence, phone network operators and clusters of communities, rather than to individual domestic customers which its competitor Starlink primarily targets.The users willing to connect were advised to contact their local telecoms for additional info.
In 2016, OneWeb planned for a launch cadence of 30–36 satellites a monthto create an initial constellation of 650 satellites. The satellites operate in low Earth orbit (LEO). Like existing LEO based communications satellite constellations, OneWeb's satellites are closer to Earth and will, therefore, provide much lower transmission delays than geostationary satellite broadband services. As late as January 2020, OneWeb was still planning to provide 10 times the bandwidth and one-tenth of the latency of existing geostationary satellites.
The first-generation satellites do not have inter-satellite data links, so will only provide a user service when also in the range of a gateway ground station, and will operate in 12 near polar orbit planes at 1,200 km (750 mi) altitude, at 86.4° orbital inclination. User service is in the Ku-band, and links to gateway ground stations are in the Ka-band. OneWeb chose an altitude of 1,200 km because there is a minimum existing population of satellites and debris at that altitude.
OneWeb's factory in Exploration Park on Merritt Island, Florida opened in July 2019, just outside the gates of NASA's Kennedy Space Center.The factory is a joint venture with Airbus and has a production capacity of eight satellites per week. The satellites will be programmed to detect the end of their life span after 5–7 years in orbit, and deorbit themselves from space so that they burn up in the atmosphere as they descend towards Earth.
In June 2019, OneWeb rolled out its initiative Responsible Space to outline the specific approaches it plans to take to promote sustainability and safe operations in space.Responsible Space covers design and operational practices, including disposal of a satellite within 5 years of the end of its mission; developing an "ecosystem" within the space industry that supports sustainability; and collaboration with other space operators. As one example, OneWeb plans to include a grapple fixture on its satellites so that a third-party satellite could grab it and tug it out of orbit, should the satellite prove non-responsive.
Intelsat Corporation was an American communications satellite services provider, now international provider. Originally formed as International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, from 1964 to 2001, it was an intergovernmental consortium owning and managing a constellation of communications satellites providing international broadcast services. Intelsat filed for bankruptcy protection from its creditors on 13 May 2020, with over US$15 billion in total debt.
Iridium Communications Inc. is a publicly traded American company headquartered in McLean, Virginia. Iridium operates the Iridium satellite constellation, a system of 66 active satellites used for worldwide voice and data communication from hand-held satellite phones and other transceiver units.
A satellite constellation is a group of artificial satellites working together as a system. Unlike a single satellite, a constellation can provide permanent global or near-global coverage, such that at any time everywhere on Earth at least one satellite is visible. Satellites are typically placed in sets of complementary orbital planes and connect to globally distributed ground stations. They may also use inter-satellite communication.
Teledesic was a company founded in the 1990s to build a commercial broadband satellite internet constellation. Using low-Earth-orbiting satellites small antennas could be used to provide uplinks of as much as 100 Mbit/s and downlinks of up to 720 Mbit/s. The original 1994 proposal was extremely ambitious, costing over 9 billion USD and originally planning 840 active satellites with in-orbit spares at an altitude of 700 km. In 1997, the plan was scaled back to 288 active satellites at 1400 km. Teledesic Corporation changed its name to Teledesic, LLC by pro forma assignment of its license, granted on 26 January 1998.
Globalstar, Inc. is an American satellite communications company that operates a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation for satellite phone and low-speed data communications, somewhat similar to the Iridium satellite constellation and Orbcomm satellite systems. The Globalstar second-generation constellation consists of 24 low Earth orbiting (LEO) satellites.
Satellite Internet access is Internet access provided through communication satellites. Modern consumer grade satellite Internet service is typically provided to individual users through geostationary satellites that can offer relatively high data speeds, with newer satellites using Ku band to achieve downstream data speeds up to 506 Mbit/s. In addition, new satellite internet constellations are being developed in low-earth orbit to enable low-latency internet access from space.
SES S.A. is a Luxembourgish satellite and terrestrial telecommunications network provider supplying video and data connectivity worldwide to broadcasters, content and internet service providers, mobile and fixed network operators, governments and institutions.
Grupo Salinas is a corporate conglomerate formed in 2001 by several Mexican companies. The group consists of:
Viasat Inc. is an American communications company based in Carlsbad, California, with additional operations across the United States and worldwide. Viasat is a provider of high-speed satellite broadband services and secure networking systems covering military and commercial markets.
The British space programme is the British government's work to develop British space capabilities. The objectives of the current civil programme are to "win sustainable economic growth, secure new scientific knowledge and provide benefits to all citizens."
O3b Networks Ltd. was a network communications service provider building and operating a medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellite constellation primarily intended to provide voice and data communications to mobile operators and Internet service providers. O3b Networks became a wholly owned subsidiary of SES S.A. in 2016 and the operator name was subsequently dropped in favour of SES Networks, a division of SES. The satellites themselves, now part of the SES fleet, continue to use the O3b name.
O3b is a satellite constellation in Medium Earth orbit (MEO) owned and operated by SES, and designed to provide low-latency broadband connectivity to remote locations for mobile network operators and internet service providers, maritime, aviation, and government and defence. It is often referred to as O3b MEO to distinguish these satellites from SES's forthcoming O3b mPOWER constellation.
The United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) is an executive agency of the Government of the United Kingdom, responsible for the United Kingdom's civil space programme. It was established on 1 April 2010 to replace the British National Space Centre (BNSC) and took over responsibility for government policy and key budgets for space exploration; it represents the United Kingdom in all negotiations on space matters. The Agency "[brings] together all UK civil space activities under one single management". It is based at the former BNSC headquarters in Swindon, Wiltshire.
The OneWeb satellite constellation is a planned initial 648-satellite constellation which is in the process of being completed in 2022, with a goal to provide global satellite Internet broadband services to people everywhere, starting in 2021. The constellation is being deployed by OneWeb, headquartered in London, with offices in California, Florida, Virginia, Dubai and Singapore.
Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX providing satellite Internet access to most of the Earth. The constellation consists of over 1600 satellites in mid-2021, and will eventually consist of many thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), which communicate with designated ground transceivers. While the technical possibility of satellite internet service covers most of the global population, actual service can be delivered only in countries that have licensed SpaceX to provide service within any specific national jurisdiction. As of November 2021, the beta service offering is available in 20 countries.
LeoSat was a satellite constellation project by a Luxembourg-based company of the same name in 2013–2019. It aimed to provide high-speed, broadband satellite internet for corporate and government clients willing to pay premium price for high-quality service.
A satellite internet constellation is a constellation of artificial satellites providing satellite internet service. In particular, the term has come to refer to a new generation of very large constellations orbiting in low Earth orbit (LEO) to provide low-latency, high bandwidth (broadband) internet service.
Kuiper Systems LLC is a subsidiary of Amazon that was set up in 2019 to deploy a large broadband satellite internet constellation to provide broadband internet connectivity. The deployment is also referred to by its project name "Project Kuiper".
The Celestri Multimedia LEO System was a planned Low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation, which was intended to offer global, low-latency broadband Internet services via Ka-band radio links. It was planned by Motorola circa 1997-1998 as one of the earliest "Internet in the sky" constellations, and as a successor to the company's Iridium satellite constellation, but never built or launched.
The United Kingdom Global Navigation Satellite System was a United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) research programme, which between May 2018 and September 2020, developed outline proposals and develop systems for a United Kingdom (UK) owned and operated conventional satellite navigation system, as a British alternative to the European Union (EU) owned and operated Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System. The main reason was to provide a national and independent system, to endure UK security, following the UK's withdrawal from the EU as a result of Brexit. It was fully supported by the Ministry of Defence.
Chris McLaughlin (OneWeb): So it is going to be price sensitive so I think a lot of what happens in LEO will be both a function of government and of defence needs, and also of connectivity for network operators, so I am not certain in OneWeb's case we will be primarily focused on broadband to every individual but rather to businesses and governments and to clusters of communities.
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