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UK government takes $500 million stake in space exploration firm OneWeb

Flyaway

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With Brexit at hand this seems an odd move.

News of the OneWeb deal drew criticism from some space experts in the UK, however. Dr Bleddyn Bowen, a space policy expert at the University of Leicester, told The Guardian that the deal amounted to “bolting an unproven technology on to a mega-constellation that’s designed to do something else.” OneWeb’s satellites are in low-Earth orbit, but most other countries’ GPS systems are in medium-Earth orbit, The Guardian noted.
 

TomS

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With Brexit at hand this seems an odd move.
It's explicitly due to Brexit, because they belated realized (in 2018) that Brexit will also include losing access to the military Galileo signal. So they need some alternative. May had proposed making a UK-specific GNSS and this appears to be it. Which is bad, because OneWeb is a terrible constellation design for GNSS. It's hard to avoid the idea that this is really an attempt to bail out OneWeb investors, who bet on a second-best LEO comms network and are watching SpaceX likely destroy their business model.
 

Flyaway

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With Brexit at hand this seems an odd move.
It's explicitly due to Brexit, because they belated realized (in 2018) that Brexit will also include losing access to the military Galileo signal. So they need some alternative. May had proposed making a UK-specific GNSS and this appears to be it. Which is bad, because OneWeb is a terrible constellation design for GNSS. It's hard to avoid the idea that this is really an attempt to bail out OneWeb investors, who bet on a second-best LEO comms network and are watching SpaceX likely destroy their business model.
Also how does this work from a national security standpoint considering where they were launched from.
 

Flyaway

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Full Press Release

LONDON, July 3, 2020 – OneWeb, the communications company whose mission is to bring connectivity to governments, businesses, and people everywhere, announced today that it has entered into an agreement with a consortium led by HMG (through the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy) and Bharti Global Limited (“Bharti”) for the acquisition of the OneWeb business in connection with its court-supervised sale process. The bid is designed to capitalise the company sufficiently as a going concern to effectuate the full end-to-end deployment of the OneWeb system.

Following a competitive process, the consortium’s winning bid represents a strong offer that will enable OneWeb to successfully emerge from the Chapter 11 process with a robust foundation on which to continue its progress towards commercial operations and secure OneWeb’s position as a global leader in low latency connectivity.

The consortium brings immediate commercial value to OneWeb. Bharti, through Bharti Airtel, is the third largest mobile operator in the world, with over 425 million customers. Bharti Airtel has its own extensive mobile broadband networks and enterprise business, which will act as the testing ground for all OneWeb products, services, and applications. Bharti will contribute significant contract value to OneWeb through its presence across South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, where the terrain necessitates the use of satellite-based connectivity, providing a near-term anchor customer for large-scale global deployment of OneWeb’s services.

The commitment of HMG accelerates and enhances OneWeb’s global access. OneWeb will contribute to the UK government’s ambition to join the first rank of space nations, along with its commitment to making the UK the world’s leader in science and research and development.

OneWeb remains ready to continue building its communications system to deliver transformative connectivity available everywhere including to businesses and people in remote and rural parts of the world, starting with the Arctic, while also maintaining a strong corporate purpose to do good through its communications and other services.

OneWeb has always believed that its system has tremendous potential. Demand for a new mix of connectivity services has been underscored during the pandemic, increasing the urgency through which businesses, people, communities must connect and operate.

Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb commented: “We are delighted to have concluded the sale process with such a positive outcome that will benefit not only OneWeb’s existing creditors, but also our employees, vendors, commercial partners, and supporters worldwide who believe in the mission and in the promise of global connectivity. The combination of HMG and Bharti will bring immediate value as we develop as a global leader in low latency connectivity. This successful outcome for OneWeb underscores the confidence in our business, technology, and the work of our entire team. With differentiated and flexible technology, unique spectrum assets and a compelling market opportunity ahead of us, we are eager to conclude the process and get back to launching our satellites as soon as possible.”

The transaction remains subject to approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, as well as regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. The transaction is expected to close by the fourth quarter of 2020. In the meantime, the purchasing consortium will work with the OneWeb management team to further develop the strategy and business plan and to resume the Company’s launch schedule.
 

zen

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Hmmmm.... curious move this one. All sorts of possibilities exist behind it from outright corruption all the way to something clever and secret.

Services for poles is interesting.....
Band is very interesting.

Could this extend Skynet? I know military bandwidth is an issue.
 

Archibald

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More seriously, this is very weird, indeed.
Seems that the deal is actually
- 10% of the company shares left to Greg Wyler and his team
- 45% to an Indian startup / company
- 45% to the British governement.

So the british governement only has a minority in that scheme. I tend to go for the "Galileo alternative" theory, but as repeatedly said
GPS & Galileo =/= Starlink.
Satellites constellations in both cases, sure, but that's the one and only things the two have in common.
 
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