Bharti Global has invested another $500 million into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite firm OneWeb.
The Indian conglomerate has exercised a Call Option to make an additional investment in the company on the anniversary of it emerging from bankruptcy last year. At the time, both Bharti and the UK government each invested around $500 million into the company.
“Bharti is delighted to show our confidence in OneWeb’s rapid progress by exercising our Call Option with the support of fellow shareholders. In just a year and during a global pandemic, together we have transformed OneWeb, bringing the operation back to full-scale,” said Shravin Mittal, managing director of Bharti Global.
Upon completion of the Call Option and with Eutelsat’s previously announced $550 million investment, the company will have secured a total of $2.4 billion in equity investment. Bharti will hold 38.6 percent of the company while the UK Government, Eutelsat, and SoftBank will each own 19.3 percent.
“OneWeb represents a unique opportunity for investors at a key moment in the commercialization of space,” said OneWeb executive chairman, Sunil Bharti Mittal. “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.”
This week OneWeb announced a partnership with BT to explore using the satellite company’s LEO constellation to provide Internet coverage to rural areas of the UK. The company has also made a number of deals and partnerships in Alaska and Canada.
This week SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said his company’s rival Starlink service sells its satellite receive terminals at a loss and the company's overall investment in the project could range from $5-$30 billion.
The rest of the LEO satellite industry is also seeing a steady flow of investment. This month Canadian startup Kepler raise $60 million for its low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite data constellation, while incumbent firm Iridium Communications Inc. won a $30 million research and development contract from the US Army to develop a GPS payload for constellations of smaller LEO satellites.