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Virgin and Qualcomm team up to fund internet satellite constellation

Virgin and Qualcomm have both announced today that they will be pouring money into satellite internet.

Both firms will lead investment in a company called OneWeb, which aims to build an entire constellation of satellites that will provide internet to billions of users.

So how will it work? Well OneWeb hopes to launch exactly 648 lightweight, low-orbit, low-lag satellites.

Once in orbit, the satellites will connect with mobile providers on the ground, providing high-speed internet in areas that would otherwise struggle to access convetional internet.

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, said: “We are excited by OneWeb’s bold vision to launch this major satellite constellation and be one of its key early investors.”

Imagine the possibilities for the three billion people in hard to reach areas who are currently not connected.”

Virgin has confirmed that its Virgin Galactic branch will be launching the satellites, and is actively hiring for the LauncherOne program that will provide the service.

Branson continued: “We’re excited for the opportunity for Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne programme to help make it possible through low cost, reliable, and frequent satellite launches.”

It’s not currently clear what the value of the investment will be, although it has been confirmed that both Virgin’s Richard Branson and Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs will be joining the board of directors at OneWeb.

Related: The Internet of Things will ‘create a single human family’, economist predicts

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen big tech firms get behind new ways of bringing internet to remote areas of the planet.

Google is already well under way with its Project Loon testing, a scheme which sees internet provided by a network of stratospheric balloons that relay signals to each other.

Facebook also has its own oddball internet roadmap, instead opting for net-carrying drones as its service-providing weapon of choice.

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