A year and a half after OneWeb landed more than $500 million to start building its global satellite network, the company has doubled down with a massive new $1.2 billion financing, $1 billion of which will come from Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank. OneWeb is seeking to create a network of orbiting satellites that provide affordable internet access to markets around the globe that don't have high-speed connectivity—particularly the millions of schools without broadband—within the next decade.
With that lofty goal in mind, OneWeb will use the fresh funds to build a Florida production facility that, starting in 2018, will be capable of making 15 satellites per week. The company hopes to begin its full launch campaign as early as 2019.
OneWeb’s venture has two rather notable direct competitors: Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Boeing (NYSE: BA), both of which asked the US government earlier this year for permission to launch similar networks of internet-providing satellites. It remains to be seen which company—if any—will succeed, but it appears investors have billions of dollars of faith in the idea.