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Bill Gates invests $78 million in satellite antenna firm Kymeta

(Reuters) - Billionaire Bill Gates is leading satellite antenna firm Kymeta’s latest funding round with a $78 million (59 million pounds) investment, the company’s president told Reuters.

Redmond, Washington-based Kymeta, which sells pizza box-sized antennas for installation on cars, trains and boats, secured $85.2 million in capital. It plans to launch a monthly subscription service for satellite-based internet to government customers later this year, Kymeta President and COO Walter Berger said in an interview.

“The thesis here is to advance connectivity on a global basis. Cellular doesn’t do that,” he said.

Gates’s firm, which has invested in at least one other funding round, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Kymeta antennas mainly link with satellites in high orbital altitudes and can link to remote places as well moving planes and vehicles.

A range of companies, like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Amazon, are building networks of satellites in low-Earth orbit, an expensive and high-risk endeavor that has sent satellite operator OneWeb into bankruptcy.

Kymeta’s funding round comes on the heels of acquiring satellite service provider Lepton Global Solutions LLC, cementing a key government customer base and gaining access to 17 communications satellites in orbit.

The company plans to launch a satellite antenna bundle by the end of 2020 for $1,000 a month, Berger said.

Kymeta has been in discussions with various companies building low-Earth orbit satellite constellations, Berger said.

Reporting By Joey Roulette, editing by Peter Henderson & Shri Navaratnam

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