OneWeb files for bankruptcy amid COVID-19 chaos, leaving fate of its broadband satellites up in the air
OneWeb, the London-based venture that launched its latest batch of broadband internet satellites last weekend, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York today.
- Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source who’s familiar with the situation told GeekWire that OneWeb wasn’t able to arrange further financial support from Softbank Group, one of its biggest backers — largely due to the “chaos in the economy” created by the global coronavirus outbreak. The source said a substantial number of employees were laid off today, but didn’t provide numbers.
- OneWeb now has 74 satellites in low Earth orbit, and was planning to begin offering broadband internet access in the Arctic as soon as this year. The source said it’s too early to talk about revisions in the timeline or the status of future satellite launches.
- The financial setback boosts SpaceX’s Starlink constellation as the front-runner in a competition to beam more ubiquitous broadband to underserved markets (and the U.S. military) from low Earth orbit. Starlink satellites are built at SpaceX’s facilities in Redmond, Wash., not far from where Amazon’s Project Kuiper is laying the groundwork for yet another broadband satellite constellation.