When I first came across O3b in the Pacific, I asked a lot of questions about latency. Because the answers were right, I’ve been recommending O3b type solutions to people who want satellites as part of the solution to broadband connectivity problems. O3b went from four to twelve medium-earth-orbit satellites, serving niche markets that could not be served by fiber. Its weakness, if any, was that it could not serve the northern latitudes. Now Greg Wyler, a founder of O3b, is seeking to fill that gap with a massive constellation of over 700 satellites in a new system that has the financial backing of Intelsat and was just licensed by the FCC, OneWeb.
Having been regaled on the wonders of non-geostationary satellites by various delegations seeking licenses for Iridium and ICO and other systems that ultimately fizzled out, I was originally skeptical about O3B. But they answered my questions well (despite a messed up presentation at PTC a few years back) and I have been promoting this solution ever since. Happy to know they’ll break even on cash flow by middle 2016. Away from the headlines, Google — an initial O3b backer — has not raised its 5 percent equity share in the company but has kept up with the capital raises to avoided share dilution. What matters to SES shareholders is the money, not the technology, and at SES’s June 17 investor conference O3b Chief Executive Steve Collar gave a snapshot of the company’s current status.
I write this sitting in Vanuatu at the Pacific Islands Telecom Association (PITA) annual convention. These are exciting times for the Pacific (and possibly all small island states) in terms of the opening up of new options re international data connectivity. Tonga They are a few months into the new age of fiber connectivity. This is perhaps the smallest country to invest in a fiber cable (Fiji-Tonga). Population is 103,036.
The world is awash in telecenter pilots. I thought all the lessons that could be learned, have been learned. Apparently not. Google is bankrolling another pilot in Kenya, including a USD 700/month broadband bill. So, for sustainability we’d need around 700 users spending a tad more than USD 2 per visit?