Jersey-based O3b is a would-be satellite operator looking to serve the ‘other 3 billion’, that is the millions who live either side of the Equator and are unserved by broadband availability. O3b’s largest investor is SES, but other investors include Google, Liberty Global, HSBC and others
O3b has now raised another $137 million to pay for the construction of four additional satellites, which means the current financing can now place 12 satellites in orbit, scheduled for initial launch in 2013.
“The expansion of the fleet from eight to twelve satellites will increase the company’s throughput by more than 90 per cent through a combination of the additional beams deployed and the enhanced link efficiency that a larger constellation of satellites can deliver. The company has already sold a little over a third of its capacity on a global basis with the contracted backlog now standing at over US $600m,” said an O3b statement.
“One of the things that first attracted us to O3b Networks was the idea that the fleet is uniquely scalable,” said Larry Alder, Business Operations Director at Google, one of O3b’s earliest investors. “For relatively modest incremental investments, O3b can add meaningful quantities of high quality, low latency bandwidth and deliver it into the emerging world at sustainable and affordable prices.”
O3b’s satellites will be placed into orbit approximately 8,000 kilometres from earth, four times closer than geo-stationary satellites.
“Global IP traffic is set to increase four fold over the next five years, growing at more than 30 per cent per year and a huge proportion of that expansion will be in the emerging markets,” said Steve Collar, CEO of O3b Networks. “O3b is committed to providing industry leading customer service and carrier class reliability while driving down the cost per Mbps delivered into the developing world. With this investment, we have the capacity to fuel our customers’ networks and position them to respond to the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth and connectivity.”