The move marks the first step of a $50bn US investment SoftBank’s founder Masayoshi Son pledged to President-elect Donald Trump.
Japanese technology giant SoftBank is investing $1bn in the US company OneWeb, which is building a network of satellites to provide global broadband access.
The US firm is working on the mass production of satellites. Earlier this year the firm broke ground on a manufacturing facility in Florida close to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Once operational next year OneWeb says it will ramp up to building 15 satellites per week. The first 900 production satellites will weigh only 150 kg.
The latest funding round also includes $200m from existing investors. The money will support technological development and the construction of the satellite production facility.
The satellites will be used primarily by OneWeb for its global internet services, but the new low cost ultrahigh-performance satellites will be available for other commercial satellite operators and government customers.
The investment is expected to create about 3,000 new jobs in the US in the next four years.
The SoftBank-led investment is designed to speed up the delivery of affordable, high-speed internet to rural areas across the US and emerging markets using a technology called Progressive Pitch.
The technology will be used for consumer broadband, connected cars, cellular backhaul and the Internet of Things.
The US firm has plans to design and build a constellation, starting with 720 low earth orbit satellites, in order to offer global internet coverage with lower latency.
The OneWeb system will have over 10 terabits per second of new capacity and user terminals featuring embedded LTE, 3G, 2G and Wifi.
It will expand the networks of mobile operators and internet service providers to serve new coverage areas at a lower cost, it said.
Softbank founder Masayoshi Son said it was the first step in a pledge made to US President-elect Donald Trump about US investment.
“America has always been at the forefront of innovation and technological development and we are thrilled to be playing a part in continuing to drive that growth as we work to create a truly globally connected ecosystem.”
OneWeb founder Greg Wyler said: “SoftBank’s investment underscores the evolution and continued success of our company and accelerates our strategic growth plan.
“We look forward to working together as we execute on our mission to build a global knowledge infrastructure that provides affordable broadband to the over four billion people across the globe without internet access.”
In October, Softbank partnered with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to launch a $100bn technology fund.
Earlier this year, Softbank caused a stir in the UK when it acquired UK chip design company ARM – ARM processors are by far the most widely used in the global smartphone market.
Richard Branson is on the OneWeb board of directors.