O3b launches new satellites to address digital divide
Juan Fernandez Gonzalez | 15 July 2014
O3b has launched four new satellites, thus doubling its capacity, to bring the Internet to the 3,000 million people who currently don't have access.
With its eight operative satellites, the company will be able to start offering satellite broadband at low prices.
45% owned by SES, O3b is also supported by Google, Liberty Global, HSBC, Sofina, Satya Capital, Development Bank of South Africa, Northbridge Venture Partners and Allen & Company.
SES launched the four GEO satellites from the Kourou space station in French Guyana. They will be orbiting 8,000km from Earth, instead of the regular 36,000km, in order to reduce transmission times. According to O3b, this satellite network almost completely eliminates delay in geostationary communication services.
The company has been working on the project since 2007.
The current network covers an area inhabited by 3,000 million people, most of whom have no easy access to the Internet. The project aims not only to bring them Internet access but also improve communications for other sectors such as maritime transport and remote oil and gas rigs.
"We are proud of being the main characters in an adventure without precedent ... proving that technological progress improves quality of life for people," said Luis Sánchez-Merlo, SES president in Spain. "The future challenges can only be faced if the world eliminates the digital divide."