March 20 (UPI) — OneWeb, a satellite operator backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group, is in financial trouble and is considering bankruptcy amid the challenge of soaring operating costs and increased competition, according tomedia reports. OneWeb is considering seeking court protection, people familiar with the matter said, though it is continuing to look for possible alternatives out of court.
OneWeb will be one of the first companies to file for bankruptcy with the backing of SoftBank, its biggest investor. Spokesmen for OneWeb and SoftBank declined to comment.
Headquartered in London, OneWeb produces so-called low-Earth orbit satellites that provide high-speed communications. Since its inception, it has received about $3.3 billion in debt and equity financing from shareholders such as SoftBank, Airbus SE and Qualcomm, according to the filing.
OneWeb faces increasing competition, with biggest competitors including Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink project and Jeff Bezos’ Project Kuiper project. Other contenders include Inmarsat, Intelsat SA and Eutelsat Communications SA.
Although satellite Internet technology is still in its early stages, the business is not only affected by high start-up costs, but also faces an uncertain regulatory environment. SoftBank has reportedly stepped up its lobbying efforts in Washington, including supporting efforts to allow OneWeb to launch more satellites to provide Internet access.