The Strategist

Virgin, Airbus to Invest in Satellite Network

06/26/2015 - 18:46

The biggest players in the market of high-tech are investing $ 500 million in the creation of the wide satellite internet network. 900 satellites are to be brought into orbit as part of this project.

picture: airbusgroup
picture: airbusgroup
The joint venture is created by OneWeb Ltd., formerly known as WorldVu. Its goal - to provide global access to broadband satellite internet from any point on Earth already by 2019.
The JV received funding from some companies, including Qualcomm Inc., Virgin Group and Airbus Group. Together, they plan to build a total of 900 satellites, with simultaneously not less than 640 having presence in orbit.
It is reported that Airbus is going to become OneWeb’s technology partner, and offer their own ideas for the layout and design of space objects. At the time, the rockets are to be launched from Arianespace flying platform and Virgin Galactic - LauncherOne. Earlier it was reported "Soyuz STB" rockets will be used in the project.
OneWeb’s Executive Director Greg Wyler argues that global satellite network will embrace the entire world with not only stable, but also available Internet connection and will significantly enhance the ability of mobile operators.
In 2012, the number of connections to satellite broadband Internet accounted for only 0.2% of the total number of devices connected to the network in the OECD. The main problems were the high cost of services and the connection slow and unstable. However, participants of OneWeb’s project argue that the popularity of this type of connection will grow.
The project, in addition to the listed companies, was invested by Bharti Enterprises, Hughes Network Systems and Coca-Cola Co. Earlier it was reported that the stage of the satellites network spreading will require $ 3 billion. According to Greg Wyler, they need another round of financing, and the overall investment program will last for "several years."
Interestingly, the Airbus have already told which satellites will be launched into space. As it became known, each of them will weigh about 150 kg, and cost less than $ 1 million. In the future, the price tag can be lowered even further.
The head of Virgin, Richard Branson, for his part said that only his company is able to quickly replace satellites outlived their time. A starting , created by Virgin, claims to provide replacement within 24 hours.
OneWeb is already facing competition with Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Eight satellites will be brought into orbit as part of this project in the next year. Google Inc. and Fidelity Investments are investing in the project. The latter invested $ 1 billion and got 10% in the capital of an enterprise Elon Musk this year.
At the same time, the previous Greg Wyler’s satellite network, called O3b Networks Ltd., has launched into space 12 satellites that provide access to the Internet in remote corners of the Earth.