Like a satellite crashing down to earth, the fall of UK-based satellite company OneWeb was spectacular. At the turn of the year, it was still seen as a promising unicorn, having already raised $3.4 billion from marquee investors including Japanese VC SoftBank and semiconductor major Qualcomm. In late March, scarcely a week removed from the successful launch of 34 satellites, OneWeb filed for bankruptcy after a failed funding round from SoftBank.
Fibre in the Sky
OneWeb, many possibilities for Bharti
Bharti’s successful $500 million bid for bankrupt satellite startup OneWeb came out of the blue. The surprise acquisition could help Bharti both in its fight against Reliance Jio as well as globally
OneWeb’s plans to broadcast internet via its satellites could help Bharti’s business in Africa, where laying fibre is expensive and difficult
In India, it could bridge the gap with Jio, which currently boasts 700,000 km of fibre as opposed to Bharti Airtel’s 280,000 km
Questions remain over OneWeb’s tech chops, but the entry of broadband satellite leader Hughes Communications should help that
Even so, Bharti and OneWeb must compete with Starlink, backed by Elon Musk and Google, as well as Amazon’s Kuiper Project