UK Government and Bharti to acquire OneWeb
In an exciting technology collaboration, the UK Government and Bharti, one of India’s leading business groups, have joined hands to form a consortium and successfully won the bid for OneWeb, which is engaged in setting up a constellation of low-earth orbit satellites.
OneWeb seeks to provide high-speed, low latency wireless broadband connectivity to under-served rural areas across the world, and also address growing needs across aviation, maritime, government, enterprise and telecoms sectors. Bharti is already the world’s third largest mobile operator in customer terms (425 million customers) under the Airtel brand, and also runs a successful satellite broadcasting service in India through Airtel Digital TV, serving over 16 million households.
For the UK, this move reinforces the government’s ambition to be a pioneer in the research, development, manufacturing and exploitation of novel satellite technologies. The deal also offers the UK strategic opportunities across a wide range of other applications, working with international allies. OneWeb will also contribute to the government’s plan to join the first rank of space nations, and underlines the scale of Britain’s ambitions on the global stage. The OneWeb deal follows the formation of UK’s first-ever National Space Council, chaired by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to consider how space policy can enhance the country’s prosperity and place in the world, as well as UK’s wider national security interests.
The UK Government and Bharti have both committed $500 million each to take a significant equity share in OneWeb.