Satellite spat over alleged O3b “service outages”

On May 19th Hong Kong-based satellite operator ABS announced that it had signed a “strategic partnership” with “one of the largest telecommunications operators in SE Asia” to supply 500 MHz of capacity on its ABS-2 craft at 75 degrees East.

So far, so routine. Except within the announcement was the phrase that the new partner had previously been using a non-GEO solution in Ka-band…[and] ”who could no longer tolerate the frequent outages and downtimes” associated with the Ka-band supplier.

That supplier is now known to be SES-owned O3b, but the argument between O3b and ABS was initiated at the CASBAA session at the CommunicAsia show in Singapore on May 22nd, when ABS CEO Tom Choi specifically addressed the reliability issue with Low Earth orbiting satellites, and O3b in particular. Choi recognised that ‘rain fade’ was a problem with Ka-band.

O3b’s CEO Steve Collar (and now running SES Networks operation) flatly denied losing the East Timor-based customer. Quoted by trade mag Space Intel Report, Collar said that 12 out of the 13 original clients signed had upgraded their capacity and demand over the past year, and that significant growth (“of near 70 percent”) in demand could be expected this year.

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