Installation of Azure Orbital Ground Station in WA (Source: Microsoft)

SES expands Microsoft Azure data center & network connections for O3b mPower

This week satellite operator SES announced it has signed agreements to build an initial eight O3b mPower satellite ground stations to become operational in the second half of this year. The eight sites will provide capabilities for SES to manage its mPower medium earth orbit (ME) broadband satellite constellation as well as to provide one-hop access to four Microsoft Azure data center locations.  

“We are thrilled to have chosen these eight locations and construction is underway,” said Stewart Sanders, Executive Vice President of Technology and O3b mPOWER program. “We are also deep in discussions with several telco players and operators who are keen to have their own O3b mPOWER satellite ground station. This is particularly exciting, as it means that SES’s provision of a core network of command, control and data gateways will be augmented with a number of customer satellite ground stations; satellite ground stations provisioned according to our customer needs, with regards to location, size and infrastructure requirements. We expect a number of these customer satellite ground stations to include virtualized installations of the cloud at the edge of the deployed networks, thus improving the end-user experience.”

The eight new sites will be located at Dubbo, NSW, Australia (operated by Pivotel) and Thermopylae, Greece (operated by OTE). Other locations include Merredin, Perth, Australia; Phoenix, Arizona, US; Chile; the United Arab Emirates; Senegal as well as SES’s own satellite ground station in Hawaii. Four out of the eight sites will be co-located and operated with Microsoft’s Azure data centers, but SES would not disclose which sites will have the one-hop connectivity to the Azure cloud.

O3b mPOWER is SES’s next-generation MEO broadband constellation, leveraging O3B’s success with its initial network. Initially, SES will add 11 new high-throughput, low latency satellites capable of delivering high-speed broadband services starting at “tens of megabits to multiple gigabits per second, providing fiber-like connectivity to customers globally.”

The first three O3b mPOWER satellites are scheduled for launch in the third quarter of this year, with the next three in the first quarter of 2022. O3b mPOWER expects to start delivering services in the third quarter of 2022 if all goes according to plan.

SES has made no secret of its plans to increase and improve its cloud connectivity this year, announcing a “Cloud Direct” service earlier this month, and an announcement by Microsoft to partner with SES for the colocation of SES ground station facilities with Microsoft data centers last fall.

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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