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O3b Constellation

O3b Networks Ltd. is a network communications service provider building and operating a medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellite constellation primarily intended to provide voice and data communications to mobile operators and Internet service providers, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of SES S.A.


The network combines the relatively large reach of satellite with high speed and medium latency to deliver satellite Internet services and mobile backhaul services to emerging markets. The name "O3b" stands for "Other 3 billion", referring to the population of the world where broadband Internet is not currently available.[1]

Orbiting at an altitude of 8,062 kilometres (5,009 mi), less than one quarter of the altitude of geostationary satellites, the O3b satellite constellation of 20 Ka-based satellites significantly reduces communication latency.[2]

Rendering of O3b satellite coverage areas and visibility around the Equator.

After initially planning to launch in 2010,[3] the first four satellites were launched on June 25, 2013.[4][5] A second four satellites were launched in July 2014, and another four in December 2014 bringing the satellite constellation to 12 satellites. Three years later, four additional satellites were launched in March 2018,[2] and in April 2019, the final four were launched[6] to bring the constellation to 20 satellites, including the three current backup satellites which are used as in-orbit spares.[7]

In September 2017, SES announced the next generation of O3b satellites and placed an order for an initial seven from Boeing Satellite Systems. Expected to launch in 2021, the O3b mPower constellation of MEO satellites for broadband internet services will "be able to deliver anywhere from hundreds of megabits to 10 gigabits to any ship at sea" through 30,000 spot beams. Software-defined routing will direct traffic between the mPower MEO satellites and SES' geostationary fleet.[8]


O3b was founded by Greg Wyler in 2007.[9] The company was financially backed by SES, Google, HSBC, Liberty Global, Allen & Company, North Bridge Venture Partners, Soroof International, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Sofina and Satya Capital.[10]

In April 2016, SES announced that (subject to regulatory approvals which are expected to be completed by the end of 2016) it would pay $20 million to increase its fully diluted ownership of O3b from 49.1% to 50.5%, taking a controlling share in the company.[11] In May 2016, SES said it would raise another $710 million to purchase all of O3b Networks, exercising a call option with O3b minority shareholders and eliminating the possibility of an O3b stock offering,[7] and then subsequently announced the completion of the capital raising[12] and completion of the acquisition.[13]


Operators in the Cook Islands,[14] Pakistan[15] and Nigeria[16] were among the first to prebook capacity on the O3b constellation to serve their respective markets.

O3b also announced the selection of Europe Media Port (EMP)[17] the world's fastest-growing teleport in 2009 according to the World Teleport Association – to be the first provider of Gateway Teleport services for O3b's global network. O3b also announced a contract with ViaSat for the production and installation of Ka-band infrastructure indicating significant progress in the deployment of O3b's Next Generation Network. The value of the ViaSat contract is approximately $47 million.[18]

In 2011, once financial closure had been obtained, Mark Rigolle, former Chief Finance Officer of SES and O3b CEO since 2010, returned to SES. In his place, Steve Collar joined from SES World Skies where he had served as Senior Vice President of Business and Market Development and was formerly an O3b board member representing SES' interests.[19] This change marks the 5th CEO for O3b in three years.

O3b has attracted investment interest with SES[20] joining Google, Liberty Global, HSBC and North Bridge Venture Partners to the $465 million buyer credit facility the company secured from Coface, the export credit agency acting on behalf of the French government.[21]

O3b has also recently raised a total of $1.2 billion to fully finance the construction of its satellites.[22]

The first four satellites were launched on a Soyuz-2/Fregat-MT rocket by Arianespace on June 25, 2013 at 19:27:03 UTC,[4] and are currently in orbit and functioning properly.[4] After discovering a hardware defect in the initial satellites, O3b postponed the planned September 2013 launch of four additional satellites so repairs could be made.[23] The second four satellites were launched by the same type of rocket from the Space Center in French Guiana, on July 10, 2014.[4][24] The third launch of four took place in December 2014.[25]

In July 2014, SES Government Solutions (a subsidiary of O3b investor, SES) received approval to offer O3b services on their General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule allowing SES GS to be the first distribution partner to offer O3b capability directly to the US Government.[26]

In November 2014, MS Quantum of the Seas became the first cruise ship to provide fast internet to guests through O3b Networks. The service is branded "Voom" by its cruise line, Royal Caribbean International and it was subsequently[when?] rolled out to every ship in their fleet. [6] [7] [8]

In August 2015, SES subsidiary, SES Government Solutions agreed on a one-year contract with US government scientific agency, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to supply O3b services and ground equipment to the National Weather Service Office in American Samoa, which will expand NOAA's broadband connectivity outside the continental US to provide weather, water, and climate data, and forecasts and warnings to American Samoa.[27]

In May 2016, SES said that O3b had a firm backlog of $350 million, and revenue in 2016 was expected to exceed $100 million, reaching around $680 million in 2023.[7]

In August 2016, SES Government Solutions announced a contract to provide an O3b Networks high throughput, low latency satellite communications solution[buzzword] for a US Department of Defense end-user. The agreement is for a 365 days-per-year service consisting of a full-duplex symmetric 155 Mbit/s link, gateway access, a transportable 2.4m terminal, terrestrial backhaul, and maintenance and installation services, with a latency of under 200 ms per round trip. The contract also provides for additional capacity to meet surge requirements.[28]

Four additional satellites were launched on March 9, 2018 on a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the Guiana Space Centre, to join the existing constellation of 12.[29] In December 2018, Thales Alenia Space said that tests on the final four O3b satellites would be completed by the end of January 2019 and the satellites would then be flown to the Guiana Space Centre for launch in March 2019.[30] The four satellites were successfully launched on April 4, 2019.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Google-backed satellite provider O3b raises $1.2B to bring the world online Reuters. November 30, 2010. Accessed June 25, 2018
  2. ^ a b Arianespace Soyuz ST-B launches latest O3b satellites
  3. ^ Kyra Phillips (January 7, 2009). Making the Web worldwide (streaming video). CNN.
  4. ^ a b c d ""The journey begins" with a lift from Arianespace: O3b Networks' first four satellites are in orbit". Arianespace. 25 June 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  5. ^ "O3b's Satellites Launch Successfully". O3b. June 25, 2013. Archived from the original on 2014-05-21. Retrieved 2013-06-30.
  6. ^ a b Four New Satellites Ride Into Space To Join Growing SES Constellation April 4, 2019. Accessed April 24, 2019
  7. ^ a b c SES exercises option to buy 100% of O3b Networks, will raise new equity May 26, 2016 Space News. Accessed May 30, 2016
  8. ^ SES building a 10-terabit O3b ‘mPower’ constellation Space News September 11, 2017. Accessed October 30, 2017
  9. ^ Winkler, Rolfe (14 January 2015). "Greg Wyler's OneWeb Satellite-Internet Company Secures Funding". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  10. ^ O3b Networks Limited raises US$1.2 billion for construction and launch of its next generation global satellite constellation Satya Capital. November 29, 2010. Accessed June 25, 2018
  11. ^ "SES to take control of O3b Networks" (Press release). SES ASTRA. April 29, 2016. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  13. ^ SES Completes Acquisition of 100% of O3b Networks Business Wire. August 1, 2016. Accessed April 26, 2017
  14. ^ [1] Archived 2012-09-04 at the Wayback Machine O3b Networks and Telecom Cook Islands Sign Long Term Agreement on Bandwidth Provision for Internet Connectivity
  15. ^ Interactive e-solutions signs exclusive national capacity agreement with O3b Networks to deploy high-speed internet to Pakistan
  16. ^ [2] Archived 2013-02-10 at the Wayback Machine O3b Networks signs deal with Netcom, Nigeria to provide fast and reliable connectivity to ships and offshore platforms
  17. ^ [3] Archived 2012-09-04 at the Wayback Machine O3b Selects Europe Media Port (EMP) as its First Gateway Teleport Operator for New High Capacity Data Network
  18. ^ Interview with Mark Rigolle, Chief Executive Officer, O3B Networks SatNews. March 29, 2010. Accessed November 12, 2018
  19. ^ O3b Networks appoints Steve Collar as CEO Telecom Asia. February 21, 2011. Accessed July 28, 2017}
  20. ^ [4] Archived 2013-02-10 at the Wayback Machine SES Invests In O3b Networks
  21. ^ [5] Archived 2012-09-05 at the Wayback Machine O3b Networks Announces Coface Backing For Proposed Financing
  22. ^ "O3b Networks raises total funding of US$1.2 billion". Archived from the original on 2012-09-05. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  23. ^ Delayed O3b Satellites Should be Ready for March Launch SpaceNews. November 1, 2013. Accessed November 12, 2018.
  24. ^ "O3b Networks going operational with state-of-the-art satellite constellation to serve the other 3 billion". Archived from the original on 2014-07-30. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  25. ^ Third quartet of satellites launched for O3b Networks Spaceflight Now. December 19, 2014. Accessed June 25, 2018
  26. ^ "SES Receives Approval from GSA to Sell O3b Services" (Press release). SES ASTRA. July 29, 2014.
  27. ^ "NOAA Signs First U.S. Government Deal With SES for O3b High Throughput Solution" (Press release). SES. August 17, 2015.
  28. ^ SES Government Solutions to Provide the US Government with a High-Performance Network August 29, 2016. Accessed August 30, 2016
  29. ^ Four O3b satellites launched to beam Internet to developing world Spaceflight Now. March 9, 2018. Accessed March 27, 2018
  30. ^ Thales readies 4 satellites for O3b Advanced Television. December 19, 2018. Accessed December 31, 2018

External linksEdit