The O3b satellite constellation for telecommunications and data services in remote locations will have its first four satellites delivered in orbit today.
The project, initiated six years ago in Rwanda, wants to provide fast and affordable Internet access to people across Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia and the Pacific region. It is the first project addressing the so far very limited connectivity of these areas.
The network will initially consist of 8 satellites but the company plans to extend it to 16 in the future.
The company said their constellation would combine global reach with the speed of a fibre-optic network and will serve billions of consumers and businesses in nearly 180 countries, offering low-cost, high-speed and low-latency Internet and mobile connectivity.
The project is, among others, backed by SES, Google, Development Bank of Southern Africa or Liberty Global.
The first four O3b satellites will be launched today by a Soyuz rocket from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. “We are ready. The countdown has begun. In a few short hours, our satellites will be coming over the horizon for the first time,” said Brian Holz, O3b’s Chief Technical Officer. “We are very close to launching a network that has the potential to change lives in very tangible ways and that is a tremendous feeling.”
The next four satellites are scheduled for launch in September and the network’s operation is expected to commence in November this year.