FAQs

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The O3b customer proposition

1. What is the O3b customer proposition?

We have a unique proposition in the market. There are still many parts of the world, including parts Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Ocean Islands which do not have infrastructure conducive to 21st century communications in place. In many of places the only way to provide this high-speed, low cost connectivity is by using O3b’s MEO satellite network. GEO capacity can be too expensive and doesn’t provide the speeds ISPs and telcos are looking for, and Fiber is not always available or reliable (where there is geo-political instability for example).

The O3b system provides telcos and ISPs with an affordable, high-speed alternative to connect their 3G, WiMAX and fixed-line networks to the rest of the world.

2. Why is it important to bring broadband to the developing world?

There are three billion people on the planet who don’t have access to affordable, state-of-the-art broadband services. These are the “other 3 billion people” (O3b) who have been denied broadband access for reasons of geography, political instability and economics.

A 2009 World Bank study estimated that a 10 % increase in broadband penetration in low and middle income countries yielded an additional 1.38% in GDP growth. It is vital that we help link entrepreneurs and small business across emerging markets to the global internet backbone, enabling them to thrive locally and tap into the global economy. In this way we enable communities to access substantial social and economic benefits for the communities in which they operate.

3. How will O3b help bring broadband to emerging markets?

O3b provide affordable and plentiful middle-mile connectivity, so, rather than targeting the end user, we provide high bandwidth and low latency backhaul compatible with all forms of last-mile solutions (2G, 3G, WiMAX, LTE etc.), which gives us a fairly unique position in the satellite space. Because it means lower latency, demand is considerable as far afield as Africa, the Pacific, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.

4. Give me some examples of places where the O3b service can make a difference:

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a good example of an African country which is crying out for improved connectivity. Currently, there is no submarine fiber connectivity to the international internet backbone. Even if this did exist, its reliability would be mostly untested and therefore would require a satellite backup to provide low latency, reliable connectivity should the cable fail. This allows service providers to offer a better quality connectivity service to their customers and actually reduce OPEX significantly.

The Cook Islands, with a population of approximately 15,000 citizens, and 100,000 annual visitors, is set to benefit from improved broadband access. Far greater access to information will provide equal opportunities for all citizens and incentivise islanders to adapt to a more web-centric landscape, spanning from educational and medical to commercial services. The new broadband access will have a highly beneficial impact on the local economy, connecting its citizens and entrepreneurs on a par with their peers and business partners elsewhere in the world.

In American Samoa new O3b capacity will improve network speeds, network reliability, and provide redundancy, should the existing submarine fiber optic system fail.

Meanwhile, in Malaysia, the government is aiming to close the digital divide existing between rural and urban Malaysia by offering cost effective mobile voice and broadband data service over O3b satellites to rural areas.

Even in Afghanistan, one of the most challenging markets in the world, the potential benefits are immense. Afghanistan is a land-locked country with no submarine cable. There are a few overland fiber cables . These fiber cables are highly unstable. With additional, reliable, capacity major Mobile Operators, Internet Service Providers and other corporate customers will be able to provide more reliable effective services.

5. How does the Royal Caribbean deal fit with your strategy?

O3b Networks in 2012 announced an agreement with Royal Caribbean Cruises to provide high-speed satellite-delivered broadband service aboard the world’s largest cruise ship.

More than 8,000 guests, staff and crew members aboard the cruise industry leader’s flagship Oasis of the Seas – under the Royal Caribbean International brand – will enjoy O3b’s enhanced connectivity at sea as if connected to fiber at home or in the office.

Royal Caribbean Cruises is utilizing O3b’s maritime offering which delivers the reach of satellite and the speed and latency of fiber at a fraction of the cost of conventional providers.

O3b enables maritime service providers to offer affordable fiber-like capacity across the Caribbean and ocean regions around the world. Providing unparalleled bandwidth, O3b’s steerable satellite beams provide cruise industry passengers ultra-fast Internet communications throughout their voyage.

At O3b, we believe that affordable, high speed broadband should always be within reach – wherever you are in the world, on land and at sea - and we are delighted to showcase the unrivalled performance of O3b Maritime together with Royal Caribbean.

6. How will your pricing compare to fiber and to geostationary satellite connectivity systems?

The real answer is, “it depends”. O3b intends to compete strongly where high bandwidth, low latency services are required such as IP trunking and mobile backhaul and we expect to have a real cost edge there when comparing the combined cost of both space and ground systems’ solutions.

The O3b network

7. How are O3b satellites different?

Operating in “medium Earth orbit”, the O3b satellite constellation –- provides full country coverage anywhere on earth, within 45 degrees of latitude north and south of the equator.

Beyond major cities, broadband costs remain high, the fiber infrastructure remains poor and there is a need for 3G cellular backhaul across large unserved areas.

O3b’s MEO satellite technology offers a solution that tackles a number of the underlying issues.

Firstly, Affordability: Fiber optic cable is often ruled out as a viable option due to the economics – operators are often unable to invest tens of millions of dollars to reach rural areas and dispersed communities. Satellite offers more cost effective coverage because it is point to multi point but it is not necessarily less expensive than connecting two points and traditional satellite cannot handle the capacity or latency that a fiber link provides so you really cannot compare costs. O3b offers broad coverage, high capacity and low latency at a lower cost than fiber for broad rural coverage areas.

Secondly, High Bandwidth: Our products provide direct connectivity to the global internet via major content aggregation sites, and onward connectivity as required to private corporate networks. With connectivity of 100, 150, 200, 400, 600, 800, 1000Mbps. GEO satellites offer less bandwidth at higher costs.

Thirdly, Low Latency: O3b offers latencies faster than long haul fiber with a round trip latency of less than 150milliseconds and capacities scalable to four times greater than any alternative satellite system.

8. What is the overall system capacity?

Overall systems capacity is 80Gbps.

9. What is your coverage area?

O3b’s constellation covers all sea and landmass within 45 degrees latitude north and south of the equator.

10. Can O3b provide a reliable solution in the many regions of the coverage band with very rainy climates?

Yes. O3b designs its links using the latest mitigation techniques including adaptive coding and modulation (ACM), automatic level control (ALC) on the satellite and uplink power control (UPC) at the ground stations. For certain customers, we augment these technical features with a hybrid C-Ka band solution.

11. O3b is using the same Reaction Wheel design which failed earlier on Globalstar’s fleet. Has the problem been corrected?

Yes. O3b has independently and exhaustively assessed the technical design of the reaction wheels and has implemented changes in assembly and test processes aimed at eliminating the causes of the anomaly. Globalstar suffered anomalies on their reaction wheels during the first 6 months of life and as a result O3b conducted 100% screening of all wheels on the ground for duration that exceeds 6 months. Wheels that passed the screening flew.

12. You are marketing O3b services to operators and to Enterprises. How will you avoid channel conflict and commoditization?

O3b sells both wholesale and direct services but in general we seek a strong wholesale partner or partners in region to leverage local knowledge and a broad base of customers.

13. Who are your main 3rd party suppliers and when will the equipment be available?

O3b is presently working with several established satellite equipment manufacturers to provide O3b-compatible systems prior to the in service date.

Viasat is manufacturing and delivering the gateway and larger customer equipment (7.3m and 4.5m antennas respectively).

For our smaller customer antennas (1.8m and 2.4m), General Dynamics systems will be used with a range of modems and hub management systems from Comtech, ViaSat and Gilat.

Two sizes of stabilized O3bMaritime terminals (1.1 and 2.2m) will be produced by Orbit.

For RF and transmission equipment, key industry suppliers include CPI, Comtech, Norsat and NJRC.

14. Your tagline is Fiber Speed, Satellite Reach. Can you really achieve fiber speed?

Since O3b has the capability to deliver in excess of 1.2 Gbps of throughput per link per transponder, those data rates are many times higher than existing satellites and match the lower order data rate capability of optical and IP standards.

Optical Carrier transmission rates are a standardized set of specifications of transmission bandwidth for digital signals. There are two standards, although quite similar; the US standard SONET (Synchronous Optical Networking) and the European Standard SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy).

SDH and SONET support standards characterized as 'Fiber Speeds'
North America OC Level European STM Level Line Rates Mbps
OC-1 N/A 51.84
OC-3 STM-1 155.52
OC-12 STM-4 622.08
OC-48 STM-16 2,488.32
OC-192 STM-64 9,953.28
OC-768 STM-256 39,813.12


IP Data rates in Ethernet terms span from Basic Ethernet (10 Mbps) Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps), Gigabit, 10 Gigabit and 100 Gigabit line rates.

Financial

15. How much has the project cost to date? How much will it cost to get to service launch?

O3b has raised a total of US$1.3billion. This covers the cost of building and launching the first 12 satellites and running the business until we become operational and start to generate revenue.

16. When will you break even?

We don’t publish financial information. We are not publically listed.

17. Who are your major shareholders?

O3b Networks’ investors are SES, Google, Liberty Global, HSBC Principal Investments, Northbridge Venture Partners, Allen & Company, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Sofina, Satya Capital and Luxempart.