Broadband satellite networks and services giant Hughes is to join the UK government and Bharti Enterprises in the new OneWeb consortium.
Hughes Network Systems is to be part of the winning consortium that will acquire low earth orbit (LEO) satellite operator OneWeb out of bankruptcy. Hughes has agreed in principle to invest $50 million in the consortium which, the Indian press points out, is likely to translate into a stake of around five per cent in OneWeb, though actual stake size is still under discussion.
Additionally, Hughes will continue as a trusted technology and distribution partner to OneWeb, which had launched 74 satellites before filing for Chapter 11 protection in March.
Consummation of the consortium is contingent upon the execution and effectiveness of definitive agreements. Confirmation of OneWeb’s reorganization is contingent on certain conditions established by the Bankruptcy Court.
Earlier this month, Bharti and the UK government said they would each invest $500 million in OneWeb, which aims to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband services, especially in rural areas, and take on the likes of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink and Jeff Bezos’s Amazon-linked Project Kuiper. Indian press reports estimate that Bharti and the UK government are each likely to hold 45 percent in OneWeb, with Hughes and other existing investors retaining the ten percent balance.
Hughes Communications India (HCIL), the majority-owned Indian arm of Hughes Network Systems, and Bharti Airtel are also in the process of combining their satellite broadband operations in India. The merger, announced last year, is awaiting regulatory approvals.