UK satellite firm OneWeb receives a $500M boost from Bharti

UK satellite firm OneWeb receives a $500M boost from Bharti
Ryan is an editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience covering the latest technology and interviewing leading industry figures. He can often be sighted at tech conferences with a strong coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. If it's geeky, he’s probably into it. Find him on Twitter: @Gadget_Ry

UK-based LEO (Low-Earth Orbit) satellite firm OneWeb is continuing a big news week with a $500 million investment from Bharti Global.

OneWeb received $1 billion from the UK Government and Bharti Global last year.

Rt. Hon Kwasi Kwarteng, MP, Secretary of State, BEIS, said:

“Today’s additional $500 million investment in OneWeb by Bharti marks yet another vote of confidence in the company from the market. It’s clear that investors see a strong future for this incredible, cutting-edge company and a robust commercial case for investment.

The government’s equity stake in OneWeb not only allows the UK to deploy low-Earth orbit technology but will put our country at the forefront of the small satellite market which is set to rapidly expand over the years ahead.

Now that OneWeb has met its original funding objective, I truly believe the company is fast becoming an asset to the British taxpayer, and I look forward to seeing their ambition realised to provide global broadband connectivity next year.”

The UK Government remains a major shareholder but the latest cash injection from Bharti makes it the biggest with a 39 percent stake.

Shravin Mittal, Managing Director of Bharti Global, commented:

“In just a year and during a global pandemic, together we have transformed OneWeb, bringing the operation back to full-scale. With this round of financing, we complete the funding requirements.

We will continue to work alongside our partner shareholders, UK Government, Softbank, and Eutelsat, to realise this unique opportunity.”

OneWeb was almost forced to shutter its operations last year following the pulling of crucial funding near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has since gone from strength-to-strength and continues to attract significant investments.

Aside from the UK Government and Bharti Global investments, the company received $400 million from SoftBank and Hughes Network Group in January 2021. Then, in April, GEO satellite giant Eutelsat took a quarter stake in OneWeb.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Executive Chairman of OneWeb, said:

“OneWeb represents a unique opportunity for investors at a key moment in the commercialisation of space. 

With its global ITU LEO spectrum priority, telco partnerships, successful launch momentum, and reliable satellites,

OneWeb is ready to serve the vital needs of high-speed broadband connectivity for those who have been left behind. Nation-states can accelerate their universal service obligations, telcos, their backhaul, and enterprise/governments can serve remote installations.”

Earlier this week, OneWeb and BT announced a partnership to explore how connectivity can be improved in some of the most difficult areas of the UK to reach.

OneWeb will have completed 40 percent of its network following its upcoming launch which is currently set to take place on 1 July at 8:48 ET / 12:48 UTC / 13:48 BST and 9:48 pm local time (UTC+9), from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome.

(Image Credit: Roscosmos, Space Center Vostochny, TsENKI)

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