Branson is a partner in OneWeb, a company that is planning to launch a constellation of 648 satellites to provide fast Internet access globally. The satellites would be much closer to Earth, cutting down on lag times. OneWeb's partners include Intelsat and Qualcomm. It raised $500 million and signed a deal with Airbus to build the satellites, and CEO Greg Wyler said the whole venture could cost $2.5 billion. OneWeb hopes to launch the first satellites in 2017 on Russian rockets, and the company would sell its access to traditional telecom companies that would resell it to customers.
Musk's SpaceX wants to do the same thing. His company is busy hiring for a new satellite division in Seattle, and SpaceX hopes to launch 4,000 satellites on its own rockets. Rather than sell the service to telecoms, SpaceX may end up competing against them and sell directly to consumers. Google and Fidelity have invested $1 billion in the venture, even though OneWeb's Wyler used to work at Google on an Internet satellite project.
It's getting ugly up there.