April 4 O3b satellite launch (Source: Arianespace)

O3b adds four satellites to MEO broadband constellation

Four SES Networks O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites were successfully launched today, adding to a constellation that now numbers 20 satellites. The Soyuz launch was conducted by Arianespace at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana at 12:37 PM ET.

“This launch marks a very important part in the O3b journey. We started O3b with this bold vision of changing lives by connecting people. We wanted to create a meaningful impact, and we have. We have connected underserved communities with high-performance internet. We have restored connectivity across disaster zones. We have changed the notion that you can’t be as connected at sea as on land. And we have made the cloud available to businesses where it was never possible before,” said John-Paul Hemingway, Chief Executive Officer of SES Networks.

O3b’s satellites orbit at an altitude of 8,000 kilometers, reducing latency down to 140 milliseconds, a quarter of the 500 milliseconds for geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) satellites.  Each satellite has twelve fully steerable Ka-band beams with a top throughput of up to 1.6 Gbps per beam, with “fiber like” performance and availability for MEF Carrier Ethernet certified services. Current customers for O3b include government, telecom, cloud, maritime and energy markets.

The completion of the O3b network markets the transition into SES’s next-generation MEO system, O3b mPOWER.  The first seven mPOWER satellites are being built by Boeing with the first launch taking place in 2021.  Each satellite will be able to provide up to 30,000 beams across an area and add tens of terabits of capacity.

Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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