O3b secures €1.4b to launch fiber satellites

Space will no-longer be the “final frontier”, after a UK firm secured funding to connect emerging markets to global fiber networks via satellite.
O3b Networks announced today it has secured the £1.2 billion (€1.4 billion) needed to fund a satellite backhaul network from banks and other investors, and pledged to deliver fiber-quality connectivity to ISPs serving developing regions.
Firms including HSBC, ING, CA-CIB and Dexia provided debt facilities worth $770 million, with the remainder covered by equity investment from shareholders including Google, North Bridge Venture Partners and Allen & Company.
O3b will use the funds to launch eight medium earth orbit birds operating in the Ka-band, which it says will offer low latency coverage to 70% of the world’s population.
The first services will go live in the first half of 2013.
“I believe that O3b represents a major step change in the economics of connectivity for the developing world,” chairman John Dick said, adding. “The amount of new funding and the quality of the investors reflects O3b Networks’ ability to balance important social goals while maintaining the required private sector returns.”
Thales Alenia Space has already begun building the satellites, which the BBC reports will be fitted with 12 moving antennas that will link to eight O3b ground stations.
O3b plans to launch a total of 20 birds in the long term, the BBC said.