O3b is a new satellite constellation that is promising fibre-like speeds from orbiting craft and providing broadband connectivity to “the Other 3 Billion” (O3b) of largely unconnected people and businesses either side of the Equator. SES already owns 34 per cent of O3b. SES will invest a further $75 million over the next3 years.
O3b is based in the tax-friendly Channel Islands and managed by SES’ former CFO Mark Rigolle, and will see 20 LEO’s orbited starting in 2012. It needed a total of $1.2 billion in funding. SES had already invested €150m, which gave it a 34 per cent, which will now grow to 44 per cent and has first refusal to take its stake beyond 50 per cent. Other investors include Google, Liberty Global, HSBC, Allen & Co and North Bridge. O3b says it is targeting some 70 per cent of the planet’s population with its service.
O3b will initially launch eight satellites that will be placed in medium earth orbit 8,000 km from the earth, which is much closer to the planet than geostationary satellites at over 35,000 km, and accounts for the low latency of the service. This innovative satellite system will cover approximately 70 per cent of the world’s population with fibre quality internet connectivity at attractive terms and conditions.