On July 3, 2020, Indian mobile network Bharti Global Ltd. and the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have teamed up to place a winning bid of more than $1 million to purchase OneWeb- a broadband startup that was filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 27.
Everything is back on track said Shawn William, PDI Government Affairs Director, according to Alaska Journal of Commerce. The agreement aims to restart OneWeb’s global satellite projects. Microcom founder Chuck Schumann avowed that the initial project with Pacific Dataport’s Aurora broadband consists of deploying about 200 satellites. On July 27, telecoms Hughes has agreed to invest $50 million in OneWeb along with Bharti Global and the British Government.
Back to January 29, 2019, Microcom founder Chuck Schumann announced his company’s project plans to supply up to 80 gigabits of broadband Internet capacity aiming to provide the best possible connectivity for Alaska customers. Pacific Dataport (PDI) – a subsidiary of telecom provider Microcom- and OneWeb announced a partnership to distribute broadband across Alaska and Hawaii on OneWeb’s worldwide network of low-earth orbit or LEO satellites.
The collaboration was expected to enable the delivery of OneWeb’s high speed, low latency, communications services across Alaska, according to a press release published on the OneWeb website on January 15, 2020. Back to the launching date, Schumann said that the Aurora project was fully funded.
However, in April 2020 and due to the Covid-19 pandemic, OneWeb’s deal with Anchorage-based telecom Microcom aiming to boost Alaska’s broadband connectivity was suspended. “While the company was close to obtaining financing, the process did not progress because of the financial impact and market turbulence related to the spread of Covid-19”, according to a statement published on OneWeb’s Website.
The first Aurora satellite was scheduled to be available in Alaska by the end of 2020 with 10 gigabits of broadband capacity. Moreover, the second satellite was planned to be launched in 2022 with an additional 70 gigabits of bandwidth, according to Alaska Journal of Commerce.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) states that less than 60% of people living on tribal lands have access to broadband compared to 97% of Americans living in urban areas.
According to High Speed Internet, Alaska is the 47th most connected state with 91% of the population having access to broadband speeds of 25 Mbps or more. Broadband Now states that the terrestrial broadband coverage is estimated by 60.08% with 0% wired Low-Priced plan access and 58.6% Mbps average speed. General Communications Inc. (GCI) – a telecommunications corporation – has already started deploying 5G in its 600MHz spectrum in Alaska’s largest city Anchorage.