OneWeb raises $400M from SoftBank, Hughes

OneWeb is a low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications company jointly owned by the U.K. government and Bharti Global. Today, London-based OneWeb secured $400 million in additional funding from SoftBank and Hughes Network Systems, according to TechCrunch. This brings the company's total funding to $1.4 billion.

In December 2020, OneWeb launched 36 new satellites, built at its Airbus Joint Venture assembly plant in Florida, bringing the company's total fleet to 110 satellites in orbit. Its goal for its first-generation satellite fleet is to have 648 satellites in orbit by the end of 2022. So the new injection of funding will help it close the gap on that goal.

OneWeb's mission is to deliver broadband connectivity worldwide to bridge the global digital divide. Its LEO satellite system includes a network of global gateway stations and a range of user terminals for different customer markets. 

OneWeb is a company that has been around longer than other satellite broadband providers, but it has struggled financially. In November, OneWeb emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 

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Earlier this week, OneWeb reduced the request it was making to U.S. regulators for licenses. Together with the satellites which are already licensed by the FCC, the company is aiming for a total constellation size of roughly 7,000, dramatically down from the 48,000 or so proposed last year.

In connection with the investment announced today, SoftBank will gain a seat on the OneWeb board of directors. Hughes is an investor through its parent company EchoStar and also an ecosystem partner, developing essential ground network technology for the OneWeb system.

SoftBank’s CEO Masayoshi Son said in a statement, "We are excited to support OneWeb as it increases capacity and accelerates toward commercialization."

And Hughes President Pradman Kaul stated, "The investments made today by Hughes and SoftBank will help realize the full potential of OneWeb in connecting enterprise, government and mobility customers."