OneWeb, a satellite communications startup that aims to launch hundreds of low-orbit satellites that will provide Internet access worldwide, has raised fresh funding of US$1.25 billion, with the Government of Rwanda being one of the investors.
The new round of funding comes from SoftBank, Grupo Salinas, Qualcomm and the Rwandan government: Previous investors in the company include Virgin Group, Coca-Cola and Airbus. It is not known how much the Rwandan government has invested in the company, but schools in remote areas of Rwanda are in line to be connected by OneWeb's satellite fleet.
OneWeb, which recently launched six satellites into orbit, has now raised total funding of $3.4 billion.
Ultimately, the company plans to launch up to 650 low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites by 2021 to deliver "deliver high speed, low latency, seamless broadband access, everywhere on Earth." The satellites will orbit 750 miles above the planet -- much higher than the 20,000-mile orbit that most satellites use.
"This latest funding round, our largest to date, makes OneWeb's service inevitable and is a vote of confidence from our core investor base in our business model and the OneWeb value proposition," stated Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb. "With the recent successful launch of our first six satellites, near-completion of our innovative satellite manufacturing facility with our partner Airbus, progress towards fully securing our ITU priority spectrum position, and the signing of our first customer contracts, OneWeb is moving from the planning and development stage to deployment of our full constellation. Our success is made possible thanks to the backing of our investors and the cooperation of our world class commercial partners including Arianespace, Airbus, Qualcomm Technologies Inc., Virgin, and Hughes."
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