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U.S. Bankruptcy Court Approves OneWeb Sale to UK Government, Bharti

By Rachel Jewett | October 5, 2020
Photo: OneWeb.

Photo: OneWeb

OneWeb’s sale to the U.K. government and Bharti Global Limited has been approved. On Oct. 2, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York confirmed OneWeb’s Chapter 11 plan of reorganization. 

The reorganization plan involves deploying an initial constellation of 650 satellites in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) under ownership of the U.K. government and Bharti. OneWeb is resuming operations and preparing to start commercial operations next year. The transactions in its reorganization plan will be carried out after receiving regulatory approval which is expected by the end of the year. 

CEO Adrian Steckel commented in a news release: “As we await the final mechanical components of the transaction, we set our eyes back to the skies with the resumption of launches later this year and commencing commercial services within a year. We are working closely with HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] and Bharti and are pleased with their commitment and partnership as we remain ever-focused on our mission to bring connectivity to communities and people around the world.”

This approval comes after OneWeb entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March after Softbank Group, OneWeb’s main investor, abruptly pulled funding. The U.K. government and Bharti Global Limited announced in July they formed a consortium to acquire OneWeb, each providing $500 million. Hughes Network Systems joined the consortium in July with a $50 million investment. 

OneWeb announced last month that it will resume launches with Arianespace in December. OneWeb has 74 satellites in orbit and its return-to-flight launch in December will increase the fleet to 110 satellites. Arianespace will provide 16 more launches total, each placing another 34 to 36 satellites into OneWeb’s constellation. 

Separately on Monday, OneWeb shared the results of a case study testing its connectivity for BMW. The study reports OneWeb’s network exceeded the latency and speed of a 4G/LTE network. While streaming Netflix, ping rates were 35 ms, compared to 71 ms on the LTE network. The experiments were carried out with six operational OneWeb satellites. Netflix, YouTube, Microsoft Teams, and AWS File Transfer were tested.