OneWeb bankruptcy questions LEO Internet viability

OneWeb just filed for bankruptcy. The company planned to put hundreds of Internet satellites into low earth orbit (LEO) to provide high speed Internet service. OneWeb promised Internet speeds of several hundred Megabits, but only managed to get seventy satellites into orbit out of a planned six hundred by the end of 2020. All 500 employees are expected to be laid off within weeks.

OneWeb's troubles raise questions about Elon Musk's SpaceX plans to provide LEO Internet service. SpaceX is apparently lobbying to make satellite service eligible for Federal grant funds, much in the same way that Musk's Tesla benefits from Federal subsidies. The need for Federal funding to support the SpaceX business suggests it may also be having financial challenges.

LEO Internet service is likely to be a much better option than current satellite Internet, but like the Iridium satellite phone service, it may turn out to be expensive. One clue that it could be pricey is that in all the glowing articles about how wonderful LEO Internet is going to be, price is never mentioned. Or as Sherlock Holmes might say, price is the dog that has not barked.

Technology News: