OneWeb files for bankruptcy amid coronavirus chaos, leaving satellite network’s fate up in the air

Softbank, having already invested $2 billion in OneWeb, declined to invest more.

OneWeb files for bankruptcy amid coronavirus chaos, leaving satellite network’s fate up in the air

Satellite internet startup OneWeb is expected to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as soon as Friday after its largest investor, Softbank, rejected a request for additional funding, according to sources familiar with the situation. 

Softbank, having already invested roughly $2 billion in OneWeb, decided it was the “responsible decision” not to invest further given the startup’s high cash needs, compounded by the global financial instability caused by the coronavirus, one source said. 

OneWeb, founded in 2012 as WorldVu Satellites, had been seeking to build out a constellation of broadband internet satellites that would operate in low Earth orbit, providing low-cost connections to customers on the ground with coverage that extends into more remote and hard-to reach areas that are not addressed by current ground-based networks

OneWeb, which has been aiming to launch at least 648 satellites to deliver global broadband connectivity, has 74 satellites in orbit following a March 21 launch that put up 34. The U.K.-based company has raised $3.4 billion, but outside analysts estimated the satellite system would require as much as $7.5 billion to complete.