Thales Alenia Space is the prime contractor for the O3b constellation, on behalf of the operator O3b Networks Ltd, a company headquartered in Jersey, Channel Islands. It is responsible for the construction of 12 O3b satellites, launched in batches of four satellites. The first batch was launched in May 2013. The second and the third respectively in July 2013 and December 2014. The constellation is positioned in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), along the equator, to provide low-cost broadband internet access to emerging markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, covering a total of 150 countries. Positioned at an altitude of 8,000 km, which is four times closer to the earth than geo-stationary satellites, these Ka-band satellites offer in particular high speed, low cost, low-latency Internet and telecommunications services to people and businesses in emerging markets.
In 2015, the company signed a contract with O3b Networks to deliver eight more satellites for their Medium Earth Orbit constellation. These satellites are in addition to 12 already delivered by Thales Alenia Space and operational in orbit. The additional satellites will expand the present constellation which has been fully operational since September 2014. The new satellites will be launched and integrated into the existing constellation beginning in early 2018.
These eight new generation satellites will be based on the existing design but with increased performance and new capabilities that will enhance O3b’s offering in the market. By increasing the size of the constellation from 12 to 20 satellites, O3b Networks will offer enhanced coverage while providing greater service availability and reliability to its existing market segments.
O3b Networks is supplying truncking and mobile backhaul connectivity to telecom operators at speeds comparable to those offered by fiber providers as well as enterprise and government services in some of the hardest to reach places in the world.
photo credits ESA