In the early evening of June 25, 2013, O3b’s first four satellites roared skyward aboard the Arianespace Soyuz launch vehicle. A few hours later, first contact was made with O3b’s gateway in Hawaii, confirming the birth of the satellite industry’s newest and most innovative operator.
O3b is deploying a revolutionary new network that combines the reach of satellite with the speed of fibre, bringing high-speed, low-cost connectivity to billions of people across emerging markets who have never had access to this level of connectivity before. Customers witnessing the launch included Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, O3b’s first maritime customer; Telecom Cook Islands, which will receive the first commercial signals across the network this summer; and Maju Nusa, soon to roll out a state-of-the-art 3G backhaul network in Malaysia built on O3b’s low-latency capacity.
“Today, a life-changing journey has begun for many of the remaining unconnected and under-served regions of the world,” says John W Dick, O3b Chairman. “In only a few years, we have designed and launched a revolutionary system, one that will transform the way communications are handled in many of the world’s under-served markets. Working with our customers, O3b will open up a new and exciting world to billions of people who, up to now, have not experienced the benefits of fast internet connectivity and who, as a result, are not on a level playing field.”
A second group of four O3b satellites will be launched in September, completing the first phase in O3b’s constellation and ahead of the launch of the company’s service later in the year. The O3b system is scalable, designed to allow additional satellites to be launched and slotted into the system, increasing capacity elegantly and simply as demand inexorably grows.
Steve Collar, CEO of O3b, adds: “So much has happened already in O3b’s short life but this launch is the start of something extraordinary. Tonight, we celebrate and then return our unerring focus to deliver the promise that we have made to our fabulous, pioneering customers around the world.”