O3b Networks, the Jersey-based satellite venture seeking to provide internet access to people in developing countries, is planning to launch services in 2013 after securing USD1.2 billion of funding, writes The Financial Times. According to the report, O3b has finalised USD770 million of debt financing and USD410 million of equity investments so that it can launch eight satellites in the first half of 2013. The satellites will provide backhaul connections between mobile operators’ base stations in emerging markets and the worldwide web. The satellites are supposed to be a cost-effective means of linking base stations to the web, given that fixed line telecoms infrastructure does not exist in many developing countries.
O3b was founded by Greg Wyler, a technology entrepreneur, in 2008. At the time he said that the company would be operational by the end of 2010, a date which proved too optimistic amid the credit crisis. O3b shareholders are led by SES, the world’s second-largest satellite operator by revenue, HSBC, Liberty Global and Google. SES will remain O3b’s largest shareholder following the equity fundraising. New shareholders include Satya Capital, a private equity firm backed by Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese telecoms tycoon, and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. O3b has finalised a USD510 million senior debt facility with HSBC, ING, Credit Agricole and Dexia.