OneWeb is a global communications company that is focused on providing broadband access to underserved areas of the world. The company was founded in 2012 and has quickly become a major player in the satellite communications industry.
OneWeb was founded by Greg Wyler, a former executive at Google and O3b Networks. Wyler saw a need for affordable, high-speed internet access in rural and remote areas of the world. He believed that satellite technology was the key to achieving this goal and set out to create a new kind of satellite system that could provide broadband access to everyone, regardless of their location.
Wyler’s vision for OneWeb was ambitious. He wanted to create a constellation of low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites that could provide high-speed internet access to even the most remote areas of the world. The OneWeb constellation would consist of approximately 648 satellites in orbit, providing coverage to the entire globe.
To achieve this goal, Wyler raised over $3 billion in funding from a group of investors that included SoftBank, Airbus, and Virgin Group. With this funding, OneWeb began construction of its satellite constellation in 2016. The company partnered with Airbus to manufacture the satellites.
In February 2019, OneWeb successfully launched its first six satellites into orbit. This was a major milestone for the company, as it marked the beginning of its effort to create a global satellite communications network.
In March 2020, OneWeb filed for bankruptcy due to the COVID-19 pandemic which upended financial markets and prevented them from raising funds. Despite the setback, OneWeb was able to secure funding from the UK government and Bharti Global, a major telecommunications company based in India. With this funding, OneWeb was able to emerge from bankruptcy in November 2020 and resume construction of its satellite network.
In March 2021, OneWeb stated its market would be primarily to businesses, governments including defence, phone network operators and clusters of communities, rather than to individual domestic customers which Starlink primarily targets.
OneWeb and France’s Eutelsat announced their merger plan in July 2022 which is expected to be completed in 2023.
As of January 2023, the company has 542 functional satellites in orbit. Their 648 satellite constellation is planned to be complete and operational by the end of 2023.