Alok Sharma, the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and the man about to be responsible for running the UK’s arm of OneWeb, told a House of Commons all-party BEIS scrutiny committee that utilising OneWeb as a replacement for Europe’s Galileo GPS system was not key to the acquisition.
However, he did say that OneWeb could offer “resilience” as far as a satellite-based positioning system was concerned.
The UK is now in a 50/50 partnership with India’s Bharti Global in acquiring OneWeb out of bankruptcy.
Sharma was addressing the BEIS committee on July 9th, although the committee covered much other ground besides the OneWeb move.
“We looked at this from the perspective of a commercial case and a strategic case,” Sharma told MPs. “We have co-invested alongside Bharti. From the commercial case, this was looking at the provision of broadband to people in rural areas, and people in aviation and maritime.”
He added that in terms of the strategic case for OneWeb the UK wanted to be a world leader in the space sector and that OneWeb presented geopolitical opportunities for the UK.
Sharma also made no commitment to move production of OneWeb’s satellites away from Florida and into the UK.