Feeds

Google goes after 3 billion with super satellite

Hella lotta Gmail

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Google has hooked up with Liberty Global and HSBC Principle Investments to start funding a satellite network aimed at connecting the three billion people who still can't get access to the internet, at least those living near the equator.

O3b, standing for the "Other 3 Billion", has raised $60m from Google, Liberty and HSBC. However, they'll need ten times that to fulfill the ambition of 16 satellites offering gigabitspeeds to service providers in central Africa and the Middle East, without the latency usually incurred in space-based internet access.

The initial phase will be half that number, and is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2010. Latency is reduced by putting the satellites in a low-earth orbit, less than a twentieth of a second away at light speed as opposed to the half second needed to reach geostationary orbit.

That does make for more complicated antennae, as they can't be pointed towards the satellite, but it makes the internet a great deal more usable. The satellites will be orbiting on the equator, which is why O3b only needs eight of them (strictly speaking, they only need five) and coverage will be limited to within 45 degrees - but much of the unconnected demographic lives around there anyway.

O3b plans to sell connectivity to local providers, who can then connect locals over 3G, WiMAX or even copper cables, using the O3b satellite connection as backhaul.

The companies already involved have reserved the right to provide the rest of the funding, according to the FT, though other backers may be brought in later.

Internet access over satellite has a poor record - the speed of deployment has often seen ground-based alternatives surpass orbiting connection speeds, and only geostationary services have had any commercial success at all. O3b isn't planning to cover the world, which simplifies things hugely, and its aggressive deployment schedule and targeted demographic means their service is unlikely to be supplanted by anything ground-based - so it just remains to be seen if the disconnected three billion really want high-speed data. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
Surprise: if you work from home you need the Internet
Buffer-rage sends Aussies out to experience road rage
EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass
Operator says it will safeguard 359 jobs, plans lick of paint
MOST iPhone strokers SPURN iOS 8: iOS 7 'un-updatening' in 5...4...
Guess they don't like our battery-draining update?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.