The high-speed race towards low orbit satellite connectivity has hit a skid as SpaceX rival OneWeb has revealed that it has laid off 85 percent of its staff and filed for bankruptcy.
Reports say the telecomm company, who has launched 74 satellites as part of its constellation, was heavily funded by SoftBank but was unable to secure the next phase of funding it needed.
According to a OneWeb press release, the blame for the funding snafu falls on the resident Bad Guy, COVID-19, and its related “financial impact and market turbulence.” Translation: venture capital has pressed pause.
It appears the company hopes to continue operating, albeit with a limited staff, while it pursues a sale. The remaining staff will be focused on “responsibly managing” OneWeb’s nascent constellation.
To date, OneWeb has spent billions of dollars working to bring high speed, reliable internet via its low orbit satellites. A joint venture with Airbus, called OneWeb Satellite, was responsible for manufacturing the satellites from a plant in Florida. The $300 million plant was just completed in July of last year.
At this time, OneWeb says “OneWeb Satellites is maintaining limited operations in Florida.”