Satellite broadband firm OneWeb has emerged from bankruptcy protection following last month’s regulatory approval of a $1bn joint UK Government / Bharti Global bid. The company entered Chapter 11 in March after investors pulled out, leading to an auction of its assets.
OneWeb plans to place hundreds of satellites, 74 of which have already been successfully launched, into a low earth orbit to provide broadband to homes and businesses around the world.
36 new satellites are due to be launched by Arianespace from the Vostochny Cosmodrome on December 17th with further launches due throughout 2021 and 2022.
The government hopes to use OneWeb to improve broadband and 5G connectivity in remote and rural parts of the UK, with services in the UK “on track to begin…in late 2021.”
The firm has confirmed it’ll continue to be headquartered in the UK and has announced former Thomson Reuters Co-Chief Operating Officer Neil Masterson has been appointed CEO.
Masterson commented: “I am looking forward to helping the OneWeb team deliver and commercialise their vision to provide internet access across the globe.
“OneWeb has a strong social purpose to improve the world’s access to information, which I share. It has great talent, a compelling commercial opportunity, and is supported by committed and knowledgeable owners and investors.
“Our December launch puts the UK firmly in the global space business, alongside acknowledged Indian telecoms experts, Bharti Global. OneWeb will be a model for responsible co-operation in Space.”
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “This strategic investment demonstrates Government’s commitment to the UK’s space sector in the long-term and our ambition to put Britain at the cutting edge of the latest advances in space technology.
“Access to our own global fleet of satellites has the potential to connect people worldwide, providing fast UK-backed broadband from the Shetlands to the Sahara and from Pole to Pole.
“This deal gives us the chance to build on our strong advanced manufacturing and services base in the UK, creating jobs and technical expertise.”
Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises, added: “This new phase and focus for the Company brings new leadership from Neil Masterson, who has extensive experience successfully operating global technology platforms in a complex industry undergoing rapid change.
“These are exciting times and the world now has a LEO alternative to work with. We look forward to partnering with those equally determined to enter this new Space Age.
“There is unmet demand around the globe for broadband connectivity and we intend to continue OneWeb’s social mission. We will use our joint venture facility to drive down cost of service, opening new use cases for low latency broadband provision.”