Global satellite operator SES and Channel Islands-based O3b Networks have announced that SES has made a minority investment in O3b to support the development of its satellite-based, global internet backbone designed to reach the ‘other three billion’ people in the developing world who do not have access to the internet. SES joins Google, Liberty Global, HSBC and North Bridge Venture Partners to become a large investor in O3b. SES will invest a total of USD75 million in the company, and will provide engineering and commercial support to O3b in order to assist the company’s development.
O3b is building the world’s first ultra-low latency, fibre-speed satellite network to serve as a global internet backbone and next generation backhaul infrastructure for people and businesses in emerging markets. The company will be able to combine the speed of a fibre-optic network with the global reach of a satellite system, and will partner with telecommunications providers and internet service providers (ISPs) to serve billions. O3b will initially launch eight satellites that will be placed in medium earth orbit (8,000km from the earth), which is some four times closer to the planet than geostationary satellites at over 35,000 kilometers, and accounts for the low latency. The system will cover approximately 70% of the world’s population.