Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
UK government to acquire cutting-edge satellite network
Government leads a successful bid to acquire OneWeb which develops cutting-edge satellite technology in the UK and in the US.
- Government-led consortium’s ownership of OneWeb strengthens UK’s place on the world stage
- government will provide $500 million to deliver first UK sovereign space capability, alongside $500 million from Bharti Global
- successful bid puts UK at the cutting-edge of the latest advances in space technology
The government has today (3 July) led a successful bid to acquire OneWeb, which develops cutting-edge satellite technology in the UK and in the US.
The move signals the government’s ambition for the UK to be a pioneer in the research, development, manufacturing, and exploitation of novel satellite technologies through the ownership of a fleet of Low Earth orbit satellites.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma confirmed that the government will invest $500 million and take a significant equity share in OneWeb. This is alongside Bharti Global Ltd, which is part of a group that controls the third largest mobile operator in the world. Bharti will provide the company commercial and operational leadership, and bring OneWeb a revenue base to contribute towards its future success.
The deal will enable the company to complete construction of a global satellite constellation that will provide enhanced broadband and other services to countries around the world.
The deal also offers the UK strategic opportunities across a wide range of other applications, working with our international allies.
With a sovereign global satellite system, the UK will further develop its advanced manufacturing base, making the most of its highly skilled workforce as the hardware is further developed and equipment and services are deployed to make the most of this unique capability.
OneWeb will also contribute to the government’s plan to join the first rank of space nations, along with our commitment to making the UK a world leader in science, research and development.
The deal is subject to US court approval and regulatory clearances and is expected to close before the end of the year.
It follows the formation of the UK’s first-ever National Space Council, chaired by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to consider how space policy can enhance the country’s prosperity and place in the world, as well as our wider national security interests.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:
This deal underlines the scale of Britain’s ambitions on the global stage.
Our access to a global fleet of satellites has the potential to connect millions of people worldwide to broadband, many for the first time, and the deal presents the opportunity to further develop our strong advanced manufacturing base right here in the UK.
The UK space sector is an economic success story, growing by over 60% since 2010. The sector, which already supports £300 billion of UK economic activity through the use of satellite services, is expected to grow further as new commercial opportunities are unlocked by this agreement.
OneWeb was formed in 2012, and has been developing cutting-edge satellite technology from its bases both here in the UK and in the United States.
The UK government will have a final say over any future sale of the company, and over future access to OneWeb technology by other countries on national security grounds.
Notes to editors
Bharti, through Bharti Airtel, is the third largest mobile operator in the world, with over 425 million customers. Bharti Airtel has its own extensive mobile broadband networks and enterprise business, which will act as the testing ground for all OneWeb products, services, and applications. Bharti Airtel also operates India’s leading satellite broadcasting service through Airtel Digital TV to over 16 million households.
Latest News from
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
UK government invests in Livingston facility to bolster vaccine manufacturing capacity06/08/2020 10:10:10
UK Government and Valneva confirm multi-million-pound up-front investment in Livingston manufacturing facility.
Quality assurance at heart of new £2 billion green homes grants05/08/2020 10:10:10
Tradespeople are urged to sign up for TrustMark accreditation as part of the new Green Homes Grant scheme.
£20 million to improve small business leadership and problem-solving skills in the wake of coronavirus04/08/2020 14:20:00
Two new leadership programmes to help small business leaders grow their companies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic were yesterday launched.
£1.3 billion investment to deliver homes, infrastructure and jobs04/08/2020 12:12:00
Funds to deliver up to 45,000 homes, create up to 85,000 jobs and upgrade skills and infrastructure to help fuel a green economic recovery announced.
Government further boosts UK vaccine manufacturing capacity04/08/2020 08:10:00
Pharmaceutical and biotech organisation Wockhardt will carry out the crucial 'fill and finish' stage of the vaccine manufacturing process.
Let's build back better03/08/2020 15:10:00
Keynote address by Alok Sharma, Business Secretary and COP26 President, at the Let's Build Back Better event hosted by the British High Commission Wellington.
Statistical press release: Digest of UK Energy Statistics 202030/07/2020 14:33:00
Statistical press release to announce the publication of the 2020 edition of the Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics (DUKES) and 2 other publications.
Government further boosts chances of UK receiving COVID-19 vaccine30/07/2020 11:20:00
Deal announced which will secure early access to a promising new coronavirus vaccine, enhancing the UK’s growing portfolio of vaccine candidates.