Richard Branson rarely does things by the book. His latest investment, satellites that can bring the internet to some of the remotest communities on Earth, sees him partnering with a brand new – but hugely ambitious – SME.
Leapfrogging over the connectivity efforts of big-name competitors such as Facebook, Google and SpaceX, Greg Wyler’s OneWeb aims to launch thousands of satellites into orbit in the next four years, in order to deliver internet access that can match fibre-optic for speed, to people who are currently completely cut off.
Armed with funding from Branson, this could see OneWeb, the new kid on the block when it comes to internet innovations, solve a problem that others have tried to tackle with drones and hot air balloons as well as rival satellites.
“OneWeb is designing a global communications infrastructure that will enable affordable Internet access to the world’s under-served populations,” said Wyler in a statement. “With the spectrum and technology, coupled with strong partners, we look forward to advancing global connectivity.”
Branson added that he was “excited” by the company’s “bold vision”, saying:
“Imagine the possibilities for the three billion people in hard to reach areas who are currently not connected… Improving access to education, health care, financial systems, and employment will take a revolution, one that we are tremendously proud to be part of.”
Around three billion of the world’s seven billion inhabitants are currently thought to lack access to the internet, which can have serious implications for social inclusion, as well as business and educational opportunities worldwide. To hear Branson explain about why he feels this is such an important project, take a look at the video below.