OneWeb Declares Bankruptcy Due to COVID19

COVID-19 pushed the company to its bankruptcy

Image: Roscosmos via Gizmodo US

OneWeb has filed for bankruptcy causing it to lay off 85% of their workforce.  After many attempts at getting financial support, it came to its downfall. The company said it was close to getting support, but the COVID-19 pandemic created a financial impact and market turbulence that cut the deal short.

The company has failed to persuade its financial backer Softbank to ante up $2 billion the additional funding to keep the company afloat. With the futile negotiation, OneWeb hopes to induce Softbank to give enough budget to tide it over while seeking for new investors. The funds were originally planned to be used to orbit some 640 satellites, the number it believed would be needed to provide blanket coverage of the Earth for broadband internet service.

A crowd of executives, media and VIPs gathers for the opening of OneWeb Satellites’ manufacturing facility in Florida in July 2019, but the fate of the plant is uncertain after the bankruptcy of its parent company, OneWeb. File Photo by Paul Brinkmann/UPI

OneWeb, formerly known as WorldVu Satellites, is a joint venture with Airbus Defence and Space. A global communications company founded by Greg Wyler in 2012. The company aims to provide internet services to “everyone, everywhere” delivering internet connections to rural and remote places as well as to a range of markets.

The downfall

Though having an ideal goal, OneWeb faces challenges including its big competitor, SpaceX’s Starlink whose planning of LEO constellations. OneWeb has successfully demonstrated its broadband capability with 74 of the roughly 700 satellites planned in orbit, the said number is not enough to offer telecom services.

Currently, the company is looking for a new buyer or investor. They might be able to entice a buyer with its active satellites and infrastructure but with the current crisis, it will likely be some time before one is found.