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January 20, 2015
Elon Musk's SpaceX confirmed Tuesday it has received $1 billion in funding from Google to bring satellite Internet to the unconnected.
The funding comes days after SpaceX's biggest competition in the skies, WorldVu, launched OneWeb with funding from Virgin Group and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM). (See O3B Founder Taps Virgin, Qualcomm for New Satellites.)
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Fidelity have both invested in SpaceX, acquiring just under 10% of the company and valuing it at $10 billion. They join existing SpaceX investors Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Valor Equity Partners and Capricorn. SpaceX says the funding will be used to "support continued innovation in the areas of space transport, reusability and satellite manufacturing." (See Comms in Space! Musk Plans Micro-Satellites, Google Leases NASA's Moffett Field.)
For all the latest news from the wireless networking and services sector, check out our dedicated mobile content channel here on Light Reading.
There has been some interesting dynamics in the satellite communications space lately. Greg Wyler, who founded Google-backed satellite company O3b Networks Ltd. , left Google earlier this year to start WorldVu, which was rumored to have close ties to SpaceX. Instead, WorldVu -- now operating as OneWeb -- will tap Virgin Group's LauncherOne to get its satellites into space. For its part, SpaceX has found a powerful partner in Google, whose past attempts at universal coverage haven't panned. (See Google Plans Web of Satellites – Report.)
It appears the lines have been drawn between the two innovative companies, and it will be a race to see who can launch first -- and most successfully. OneWeb has a leg up at present, as it owns rights to the radio spectrum needed to transmit data, and SpaceX does not.
Musk's plans for SpaceX include launching a large number of satellites orbiting at an altitude of around 750 miles. Doing so, however, will cost the company more than $10 billion over five years, Musk has estimated.
Once it has conquered coverage on Earth, the company plans to turn toward Mars.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading
Director, Women in Comms
Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.
She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.
As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.
Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.
Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.
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