OneWeb updates Court on bankruptcy plan
April 2, 2020
By Chris Forrester
OneWeb’s lawyers told a New York bankruptcy court (by telephone) on March 31st that it is looking to sell its international satellite spectrum licences within the next three months. The hearing was the first in what is likely to be a long journey for OneWeb.
Bloomberg News says that OneWeb is negotiating for a loan from its main backer SoftBank of Japan to fund its reorganisation case.
The Court granted permission for OneWeb under ‘debtor in possession’ rules to pay key vendors.
OneWeb, in its original bankruptcy filing, said it owns the rights to “valuable global spectrum” from its FCC approved spectrum serving the United States and global markets from “720 low-Earth orbit satellites using the Ka (20/30GHz) and Ku (11/14GHz) frequency bands,” the FCC noted at the time. OneWeb also has some rights to V-band and E-band allocations.
There’s speculation that the bandwidth could be of interest to Amazon owner Jeff Bezos and his Project Kuiper scheme, or the likes of Facebook, which has been rumoured to be interested in a global delivery scheme for its users. Both have deep pockets.
OneWeb also says it has “begun development on a range of user terminals for a variety of customer markets, [and] has half of its 44 ground stations completed or in development”. These – or the IP involved – could be of interest to rival operators.
OneWeb’s bankruptcy team indicated to the Court that the company needs another $2.5 billion to build and launch fully the additional 600 satellites to complete the system. This sum does not include the inevitable costs and financing of any sort of sales or marketing operation to start any sort of income stream.