Google wants 360 satellites

Google, which is already an investor in Jersey-based broadband satellite operator O3b Networks, is behind another Jersey business L5. The company, which trades as WorldVu Satellites Ltd, has bought spectrum rights to build a huge constellation of satellites to provide global internet and broadband.

The rights cover Ku-band spectrum but use low-Earth orbiting (LEO) satellites. The bandwidth was originally allocated to SkyBridge Wireless in the late 1990s, but the scheme collapsed as a result of the high capital costs needed to fund the build and launch of the satellites. SkyBridge entered ‘full’ Chapter 7 bankruptcy in November 2000.

Specialist trade publication Space News is reporting that the ITU’s official filings show L5 as promising to start services in late 2019.

The scheme calls for a super constellation of 360 satellites to operate in circular orbits at between 800km and 950km above the Earth’s surface, and for the system to be complete by 2020.

O3b is targeted at providing broadband services to ‘the other 3 billion’ of high-tech entrepreneur Greg Wyler in 2007, and with backing from Google as well as Liberty Global and satellite giant SES, which is O3b’s largest shareholder.

Wyler was O3b’s CEO until 2009. O3b has four satellites in orbit, and is expecting an additional four to be launched this summer, with another quartet going up later this year. Space News is reporting that Wyler, and L5/WorldVu have recruited O3b’s CTO Brian Holz, but that Holz will stay at O3b at least until the launch of the second batch of O3b craft.

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