The Forrester Report: Is the OneWeb Model Doomed?

Senior Columnist Chris Forrester

Senior Columnist Chris Forrester examines the problems surrounding OneWeb, not the least of which is the September 10th lawsuit filed against OneWeb and that firm’s financial backer, SoftBank, and he examines OneWeb’s prospects.

September was a good month/bad month for LEO operator OneWeb. The good news was the firm’s technical link up with Iridium. Announced on September 17, the pair signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at Iridium’s client conference at Coronado, California. Iridium and OneWeb are likely to see a bundled/twin-frequency service offering.

The two have yet to determine how the ‘partnership’ will work; however, combined terminal equipment is one probability. They each use different transmission frequencies (Iridium uses L-band, OneWeb is Ku-band based).

But as good as this relationship is, the September 19 news that Intelsat was suing OneWeb (and its financial backer media giant, SoftBank) for “breach of contract, fraud and conspiracy” — and with Intelsat seeking court-ordered compensation damages, punitive damages as well as demanding an end to OneWeb and SoftBank’s “willful breach” of their commercial relationship with Intelsat certainly is not a positive business environment.

The jury will, in time, determine the merits of Intelsat’s case — and remember, there has been no counter-argument filed yet — but it is now reasonable to suggest that any attempt by OneWeb to secure significant injections of cash must now be put on hold until this case wraps up and that may take time to adjudicate.

Within the Court filing, Intelsat alleges that SoftBank has been trying to sell its OneWeb stake and had changed its mind as to OneWeb’s prospects. The writ also provides details that OneWeb had also changed its mind as to how it would build its business.

The writ specifically alleges that the OneWeb and SoftBank conspired together in stealing confidential information, because — the writ states — SoftBank no longer believed in the OneWeb project and was seeking to protect its previous investment in OneWeb.

The full article at Satellite Magazine is HERE.


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