OneWeb Ltd, a global communications company that is based in the U.S., has been recently reported to be trying to sell a minority stake in the company to the Russian government.
The company aims at launching a constellation of microsatellites that would provide ubiquitous low-latency, high speed internet connectivity to remote areas. However, OneWeb’s exalted goal has drawn suspicions from the Russian government which has come to believe that the network of satellites is aimed a gathering intelligence about Russia which can eventually threat national security.
OneWeb, however, considers Russia an important market due to its vast expanses of land where high-speed broadband is not available. OneWeb also relies on Roscosmos Russian, the space agency, to launch its satellites. Therefore, to alleviate the concerns of the Russian government, OneWeb has invited Moscow to buy a 12.5% stake in OneWeb. According to reliable sources, the company wants permission from the Russian government for a frequency band in Russia. Sources also reported that the offer to sell the stakes were made earlier in 2018 in the presence of Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian Prime Minister.
Whether the deal will succeed is yet to be seen. Meanwhile, Russian government officials have requested access to OneWeb’s technical documentation before making a commitment to the deal.
For the record, OneWeb has several renowned investors which include Airbus, Coca-Cola Co and SoftBank Group Corp. The company’s initial plan was to launch a constellation of 900 micro-satellites that OneWeb would have built itself. But when performance of the micro-satellites turned out to be better than expected, the company decided to limit the numbers at 600 satellites. Roscosmos’ Soyuz rockets were to be used to send the satellites into orbit and they were to be launched from either the Guiana Space Center or the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Reliable sources report Christopher Torres, spokesperson, OneWeb to have said that the company is in discussions with nearly every country in the world and declined to comment when asked to specify about the details of the offer presented to Russia.