Richard Tice explained Boris Johnson has made a “huge statement of confidence” for post-Brexit Britain after buying a substantial share in satellite operator OneWeb. The operator, which began as WorldVu in 2012, has 74 satellites already in orbit, as it ramped up launches immediately before collapsing in late March. The UK Government and Indian telecoms conglomerate Bharti Enterprises said last week they would together put up money to buy OneWeb.
Speaking to Brexit Watch, Mr Tice said: “I was just in the last few days when the Government confirmed that it has successfully bid to invest £400 million in a substantial stake in the satellite business called OneWeb.
“That’s a huge statement of confidence in building a network of low orbit satellites which could be really good for improving broadband signals all over the country.
“That was a real statement of intent and again, the Government does deserve credit for that.
“That is a post-Brexit opportunity and there are lots of them.”
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The UK is looking at adding positioning technology to new satellites to complement and add resilience to the American GPS system, two sources with knowledge of the matter said, after the country exited the EU’s Galileo network as a result of Brexit.
That secondary payload could be built in Britain, the sources said.
The idea of providing internet services for remote regions is also attractive to the government.
The satellites, which have a lifespan of about five years and are assembled in a highly automated factory run with Airbus, cost in the region of £700,00 each, the sources said.
Providing universal internet service via satellite has been a dream of numerous tech tycoons and companies over the years, including a failed Bill Gates-backed venture called Teledesic in the 1990s.
Wyler originally brought his idea for what would become OneWeb to Google in 2013. Only a year later, he left Google to team up with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
That partnership ended too and OneWeb went it alone.
Musk and SpaceX are now building a rival constellation, Starlink, while Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is also developing a space internet business – Project Kuiper.