[Satnews] O3b Networks Limited—the developer of a global, high-speed, low-latency satellite-based network for telecommunications operators, ISPs, enterprises and governments—has signed a contract with Arianespace for a fourth Soyuz launch to support the expansion of the O3b Networks' satellite constellation.
The launch will occur from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in early 2018 and will put four O3b spacecraft in an equatorial Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). The contract also includes a firm option for a fifth Soyuz launch to be performed in 2018 or later.
The first 12 O3b satellites were successfully orbited by three Soyuz launch vehicles operating from the Guiana Space Center in 2013 and 2014. Each satellite weighed about 700 kg at launch and provides more than 10 Gbps of capacity. Arianespace will now launch from the CSG a fourth tranche of four satellites for O3b in early 2018.
O3b Networks Ltd.—based in Jersey (Channel Islands), whose investors include SES, Google Inc., Liberty Global Inc., and HSBC—already has a new satellite infrastructure in place providing high-speed low-latency connectivity to emerging countries. More than three billion people in Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East can now benefit from O3b's global constellation. The satellites are built by Thales Alenia Space.
O3b stands for the "Other 3 billion," a reference to nearly half of the world's population that is not adequately served with broadband internet access. O3b combines the speed of a fiber optic network with the global reach of a satellite system to enable broadband connectivity to billions.
O3b satellites are placed in orbit nearly 8,000 kilometers from the Earth, four times closer to the planet than regular geostationary satellites, giving customers extremely low latency and providing access to approximately 70 per cent of the world's population with fiber-quality internet connectivity.
After the signature, Stéphane Israël, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace, said, "I want to express my gratitude to O3b Networks for selecting Arianespace again, while expanding its broadband capacity with the launch of four additional satellites. We are proud to remain part of such an innovative program, which enables fiber-quality internet connectivity in emerging countries, therefore fully in line with our core mission: bring space down to Earth through tailor made launch solutions."