O3b Networks


O3b Networks Ltd. was 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. O3b Networks became a wholly owned subsidiary of SES S.A. in 2016 and the operator name was subsequently dropped in favour of SES Networks, a division of SES. The satellites themselves, now part of the SES fleet, continue to use the O3b name.


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-band 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 25 June 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 Gbits 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]

SES announced on 20 August 2020, it has tapped SpaceX for two additional Falcon 9 rocket launches from Cape Canaveral to deliver more Boeing-built O3b mPOWER broadband satellites into orbit, adding to a pair of Falcon 9 flights ordered by SES last year to launch the first batch of mPOWER platforms beginning in late 2021. In conjunction with the announcement on 7 August 2020 that SES will purchase four more O3b mPOWER satellites from Boeing, the companies said they will partner to offer O3b broadband services to the U.S. military and other government customers.[9]


O3b was founded by Greg Wyler in 2007.[10] 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.[11]

In April 2016, SES announced that (subject to regulatory approvals which were expected to be completed by the end of 2016) it would pay US$20 million to increase its fully diluted ownership of O3b from 49.1% to 50.5%, taking a controlling share in the company.[12] In May 2016, SES said it would raise another US$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[13] and completion of the acquisition.[14]


Operators in the Cook Islands,[15] Pakistan[16] and Nigeria[17] 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)[18] 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 US$47 million.[19]

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.[20] This change marks the 5th CEO for O3b in three years.

O3b has attracted investment interest with SES[21] joining Google, Liberty Global, HSBC and North Bridge Venture Partners to the US$465 million buyer credit facility the company secured from Coface, the export credit agency acting on behalf of the French government.[22]

O3b has also recently raised a total of US$1.2 billion to fully finance the construction of its satellites.[23]

The first four satellites were launched on a Soyuz-2 / Fregat-MT rocket by Arianespace on 25 June 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.[24] The second four satellites were launched by the same type of rocket from the Space Center in French Guiana, on 10 July 2014.[4][25] The third launch of four took place in December 2014.[26]

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.[27]

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 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, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 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 United States to provide weather, water, and climate data, and forecasts and warnings to American Samoa.[28]

In May 2016, SES said that O3b had a firm backlog of US$350 million, and revenue in 2016 was expected to exceed US$100 million, reaching around US$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 2.4 metre terminal, terrestrial backhaul, and maintenance and installation services, with a latency of under 200 milliseconds per round trip. The contract also provides for additional capacity to meet surge requirements.[29]

Four additional satellites were launched on 9 March 2018 on a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the Centre Spatial Guyanais, to join the existing constellation of 12.[30] 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.[31] The four satellites were successfully launched on 4 April 2019.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Google-backed satellite provider O3b raises US$1.2 billion to bring the world online Reuters. 30 November 2010. Accessed 25 June 2018
  2. ^ a b Arianespace Soyuz ST-B launches latest O3b satellites
  3. ^ Kyra Phillips (7 January 2009). Making the Web worldwide (http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/tech/2009/01/07/eod.worldwide.internet.cnn 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. 25 June 2013. Archived from the original on 21 May 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  6. ^ a b Four New Satellites Ride Into Space To Join Growing SES Constellation Space.com 4 April 2019. Accessed 24 April 2019
  7. ^ a b c SES exercises option to buy 100% of O3b Networks, will raise new equity 26 May 2016 Space News. Accessed 30 May 2016
  8. ^ SES building a 10-terabit O3b "mPOWER" constellation Space News 11 September 2017. Accessed 30 October 2017
  9. ^ "SES orders two more Falcon 9 launches from SpaceX". Spaceflight Now. 20 August 2020. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  10. ^ Winkler, Rolfe (14 January 2015). "Greg Wyler's OneWeb Satellite-Internet Company Secures Funding". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  11. ^ O3b Networks Limited raises US$1.2 billion for construction and launch of its next generation global satellite constellation Satya Capital. 29 November 2010. Accessed 25 June 2018
  12. ^ "SES to take control of O3b Networks" (Press release). SES ASTRA. 29 April 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  14. ^ SES Completes Acquisition of 100% of O3b Networks Business Wire. 1 August 2016. Accessed 26 April 2017
  15. ^ [1] Archived 4 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine O3b Networks and Telecom Cook Islands Sign Long Term Agreement on Bandwidth Provision for Internet Connectivity
  16. ^ Interactive e-solutions signs exclusive national capacity agreement with O3b Networks to deploy high-speed internet to Pakistan
  17. ^ [2] Archived 10 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine O3b Networks signs deal with Netcom, Nigeria to provide fast and reliable connectivity to ships and offshore platforms
  18. ^ [3] Archived 4 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine O3b Selects Europe Media Port (EMP) as its First Gateway Teleport Operator for New High Capacity Data Network
  19. ^ Interview with Mark Rigolle, Chief Executive Officer, O3B Networks SatNews. 29 March 2010. Accessed 12 November 2018
  20. ^ O3b Networks appoints Steve Collar as CEO Telecom Asia. 21 February 2011. Accessed 28 July 2017}
  21. ^ [4] Archived 10 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine SES Invests In O3b Networks
  22. ^ [5] Archived 5 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine O3b Networks Announces Coface Backing For Proposed Financing
  23. ^ "O3b Networks raises total funding of US$1.2 billion". Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  24. ^ Delayed O3b Satellites Should be Ready for March Launch SpaceNews. 1 November 2013. Accessed 12 November 2018.
  25. ^ "O3b Networks going operational with state-of-the-art satellite constellation to serve the other 3 billion". Archived from the original on 30 July 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  26. ^ Third quartet of satellites launched for O3b Networks Spaceflight Now. 19 December 2014. Accessed 25 June 2018
  27. ^ "SES Receives Approval from GSA to Sell O3b Services" (Press release). SES ASTRA. 29 July 2014.
  28. ^ "NOAA Signs First U.S. Government Deal With SES for O3b High Throughput Solution" (Press release). SES. 17 August 2015.
  29. ^ SES Government Solutions to Provide the US Government with a High-Performance Network FinanzNachrichten.de 29 August 2016. Accessed 30 August 2016
  30. ^ Four O3b satellites launched to beam Internet to developing world Spaceflight Now. 9 March 2018. Accessed 27 March 2018
  31. ^ Thales readies 4 satellites for O3b Advanced Television. 19 December 2018. Accessed 31 December 2018

External links

  • Official O3b website
  • Official SES website