UK satellite start-up OneWeb, with its masterplan of bettering internet coverage across the world by forming a blanket of hundreds of satellites, has closed a new $1.25 billion financing round to further its internet constellation.
About a month ago, OneWeb launched its first six satellites into orbit and has now raised $3.4 billion in total from a host of investors including Japanese tech giant Softbank, Virgin Group, Coca-Cola and chip-maker Qualcomm.
OneWeb in a blog post on its website states that the new round of funding will enable the company to begin launching as many as 30 satellites every month, by the turn of the year. These satellites will then create a constellation which will ensure global internet coverage.
The start-up says that to achieve coverage across the world, a total of 650 satellites will be required to be put in orbit, though the ultimate number may eventually rise to 2,000 to further bolster coverage.
OneWeb’s current plan is to get enough satellites into orbit and then begin demo-ing their internet connection platform. The start-up aims to finish testing and begin offering commercial services in 2021.
However, as pointed out in a report by TechCrunch, flying low-orbit satellites could turn out to be quite a crunch for the start-up given current production costs of its spacecraft. With each spacecraft currently costing OneWeb about $1 million, to send these into space, OneWeb will have to soon move to its own special facility, built with partner Airbus, to keep a check on costs.
OneWeb is also competing with several rivals, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX, another company which is aiming to build a similar network for global internet coverage.