COVID-19: Virus brings OneWeb down to earth as company files bankruptcy in US court

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OneWeb, the company with the lofty goal of connecting the world’s airline passengers with fast internet speeds and connecting the world has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US and plans to use the reorganisation proceedings to sell the company. The company said it had been in “advanced negotiations” for additional investments that would fund the company through its deployment and commercial launch, but those negotiations and “market turbulence related to the spread of COVID-19” pandemic did not bear fruit and thus the Chapter 11 filing.

OneWeb, which has business partners like Airbus, Hughes, Qualcomm and Virgin among others, said in its announcement that it has “successfully launched 74 satellites as part of its constellation, secured valuable global spectrum, begun development on a range of user terminals for a variety of customer markets, has half of its 44 ground stations completed or in development, and performed successful demonstrations of its system with broadband speeds in excess of 400 Mbps and latency of 32 ms. In addition, OneWeb’s commercial team has seen significant early global demand for OneWeb’s high-speed, low-latency connectivity services from governments and leaders in the automotive, maritime, enterprise, and aviation industries”.

The company said it is seeking court approval for debtor-in-possession financing and other approvals that would allow it to “fund additional financial commitments as it conducts a sale process” and allow OneWeb to meet post-petition obligations to its remaining employees and certain vendors in the ordinary course.

Adrian Steckel, chief executive officer of OneWeb, stated: “OneWeb has been building a truly global communications network to provide high-speed low latency broadband everywhere. Our current situation is a consequence of the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis. We remain convinced of the social and economic value of our mission to connect everyone everywhere. Today is a difficult day for us at OneWeb. So many people have dedicated so much energy, effort, and passion to this company and our mission. Our hope is that this process will allow us to carve a path forward that leads to the completion of our mission, building on the years of effort and the billions of invested capital. It is with a very heavy heart that we have been forced to reduce our workforce and enter the Chapter 11 process while the company’s remaining employees are focused on responsibly managing our nascent constellation and working with the court and investors.”

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