SES-backed O3b Networks is getting ready to launch its second batch of 4 satellites during Thursday evening (at 20.55 Paris time). The launch, on an Arianspace Soyuz ST-B rocket from French Guiana, means that O3b can offer a truly global broadband-by-satellite service to “the other 3 billion” of the planet’s inhabitants who are under-served or not served at all with an Internet connection.
This quartet of O3b satellites will join the existing 4 craft at 8062 km above the Earth. The first cluster was launched in June last year, and the ‘Medium Earth Orbit’ means that the usual satellite link delays are dramatically reduced to just fractions of a second, and replicating that of a fibre-optic network.
While SES of Luxembourg is the largest investor they are not alone. Other participants in the project include Google, Liberty Global, Allen & Co., HSBC and other private equity investors.
And Jersey-based O3b has plenty of support from telcos around the world including operators in the Cook Islands, Pakistan and Nigeria. It has also signed up Royal Caribbean Cruises to provide cruising passengers (and crew) with ultra-fast internet access while they’re on the high seas.