The US$1 billion investment will go to OneWeb, a company using satellites to bring internet to the world’s poor communities
Japan’s Softbank Group announced today it has made the first investment from its US$50 billion pledge to foster US development. The deal was a US$1 billion investment in OneWeb — a company that uses hundreds of satellites to optimise American internet infrastructure.
OneWeb raised a total of US$1.2 billion and while it is unclear exactly who financed the other US$200 million, OneWeb Founder and Chairman Greg Wyler made an effort to thank his investors in a blog post. The list is as follows: Airbus, Bharti, Coca-Cola, Grupo Salinas, Hughes, Intelsat, MDA, Virgin, Qualcomm.
What makes this investment newsworthy is it is the first part of a US$50 billion commitment from the Softbank’s technology fund that was announced after a conversation between Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son and US President-elect Donald Trump.
“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 Son in a statement.
The announcement in early-December burnished Trump’s reputation as a jobs creator and deal maker — key tenants of his campaign to the presidency in 2016.
This investment is expected to employ about 3,000 people in engineering, manufacturing and ‘supporting jobs’ over the next four years.
Most of the money will go to building and maintaining a high volume satellite manufacturing facility in Exploration Park, Florida (near the Kennedy Space Center) that OneWeb hopes can create 15 satellites a week.
The goal is to build a ‘constellation’ of low-flying satellites with embedded LTE, 3G, 2G and Wifi technology. The company wants to create a network of coverage that is affordable, scaleable and delivers internet to the world’s poorest communities.
OneWeb wants to bridge the digital divide (the canyon-sized gap in the access to information between rich and poor countries) by 2027. By 2022 the company wants to connect every school to the internet.
“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,” said Wyler in a statement.
Apple is reportedly considering contributing as much as US$1 billion to the same fund — which is expected to reach about US$100 million.
Copyright: moovstock / 123RF Stock Photo
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