Japan-based tech group SoftBank will sink $1 billion into OneWeb, a U.K.-based company planning to build a constellation of broadband-communications satellites using launch providers including Richard Branson’s fledgling Virgin Galactic.
OneWeb touted the SoftBank investment Dec. 19 and said various other investors would provide another $200 million in new funding.
Proceeds from the new round in funding will be used in part to build a satellite-production facility in Exploration Park, Fla. The investment will create almost 3,000 new engineering, manufacturing and supporting jobs during the next four years.
Satellite production is expected to start in 2018, with 5-year-old OneWeb gunning to make its constellation operative by 2022.
“The $1.2 billion (will) support OneWeb’s revolutionary technological development and the construction of the world’s first and only high-volume satellite production facility,” OneWeb said.
Previous investors in OneWeb include Qualcomm Airbus, EchoStar and others.
“OneWeb is a tremendously exciting company poised to transform Internet access around the world from their manufacturing facility in Florida,” SoftBank chairman-CEO Masayoshi Son said. “Earlier this month I met with President-elect Trump and shared my commitment to investing and creating jobs in the U.S. This is the first step in that commitment.”
Said One World founder Greg Wyler: “SoftBank’s investment underscores the evolution and continued success of our company and accelerates our strategic growth plan. We look forward to working together as we execute on our mission to build a global knowledge infrastructure that provides affordable broadband to the over four billion people across the globe without internet access.”
The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter.
Virgin Galactic is under contract to perform 38 satellite launches for OneWeb using its LauncherOne rocket. Europe’s Arianespace will provide 21 launches using the Soyuz rocket.