I’ve written previously about O3b Networks, a satellite start-up that promises to deliver IP backhaul services to the developing world. I had a good fortune to speak with their CEO, Director of Asia-Pacific Sales, and Head of Ground Networks at the recent PTC conference in Honolulu.
Satellite technology, in a new configuration, promises to release the 3rd world from the shackles placed on them by domestic telecom monopolies.
They have just announced the signing of a new contract with Quark Communications in Guyana. An excerpt from their press release:
“With less than 1% penetration of broadband Internet usage in Guyana, we feel we have a moral obligation to provide all Guyanese Internet access for educational, commercial, and medical purposes,” said Brian Yong, CEO and Founder of Quark Communications. “The problem has traditionally been that it is very expensive to connect into the global communications infrastructure. With O3b, we now have access to ‘fibre like’ connectivity at an affordable price.”
Though emphasis of this blog is on Fiji and the Pacific Islands, it helps to bear in mind that a wide range of countries in the Global South face essentially the same issues when it comes to access to international telecommunications. O3b’s presence helps ISPs in these countries to get access to high-speed backhaul facilities for a fraction of the price. Where the only alternative is to lay expensive fiber-optic cable to establish international access, O3b offers hope. Fiber projects come with price tags starting at $300 million, an impossibility for small nations dealing when looking at their spending priorities.
O3b is not tackling this problem with unproven technology. They are relying on existing satellite technology (see graphic below) deployed in a very different constellation to achieve a coverage area for majority world/developing countries in entirety. Some technical specifications:
Additional online resources for O3b:
A Link to a short clip where you can hear a National Public Radio program feature on O3b in Africa
Diagram of O3b satellite constellation, a key difference from providers of the past (Video provided by O3b):
You can find press releases, media coverage, and the most current company information on the O3b Networks website.