OneWeb, the British-based satellite firm part-owned by the UK government, has secured a $300 million investment from South Korea’s Hanwha Systems.
Hanwha will acquire an 8.8% stake in OneWeb, which has now been funded to the tune of $2.7 billion and plans to launch a constellation of 650 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.
LEO satellites are a significant upgrade from traditional satellite technology, delivering significant advances in speed, connectivity, and latency.
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These capabilities have the potential to transform consumer services such as rural broadband and in-flight Wi-Fi – as well as other industrial applications.
Alongside the financial contribution, Hanwha will provide its expertise in the defence industry as well as advanced antenna technology that will increase the number of services that OneWeb can offer and allow it to serve more sectors.
So far, OneWeb has launched 254 satellites and says it now has the full funding to complete the first phase of its rollout. Another series of launches are scheduled for August.
“Hanwha brings advanced defence and antenna technology development to the OneWeb line-up,” said Neil Masterson, OneWeb CEO. “We are all delighted that they have chosen to join us on this journey of innovation, shaping a global service to connect the most remote locations and to provide a critical digital pathway from space to our interconnected world.”
OneWeb faced bankruptcy last year before it was rescued through a takeover by Indian telco Bharti Airtel and the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. The government now owns a third of the company after investing £400 million.
“The intervention proved controversial, however Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said Hanwha’s investment proved it was the right decision: “Today’s $300m investment in OneWeb by Hanwha is the latest in a series of votes of confidence in the company from the market. It’s clear that leading global investors see a promising future for this ground-breaking company and a robust commercial case for investment.
“The Government’s equity stake in OneWeb not only allows the UK to capitalise on our first-mover advantage 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.”
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.