“Power up the satellites! Open the monopropellant propulsion system latch valve!” said Bob, VP for Space Systems from O3b then “4, 3, 2, 1….LIFT OFF” – first satelite goes into space for O3b – not just the company but literally the “O3b” or other 3 billion people unconnected to the internet… until now.
The focus is equatorial countries (though reaching North as Portugal and South to New Zealand i.e. ALL of Africa, most of Asia and most of Central & South America).
With satelites, instead of bouncing your data signal through a series of towers and then the undersea internet fibre cables (you did know this is how the world is connected since 1850, right?) these satelites bounce mobile data signals direct from high-speed internet gateways.
So what does and can this mean? Faster connectivity to and of rural areas is happening. The reliance on old land-based, single-point-of-failure infrastructure has been dealt a final blow. The only ‘barrier’ now is the mobile network operators who provide the link in the chain between O3b and people.
Will the network operators continue to break down these barriers as they did in Uganda, Kenya, etc. to really make this work for fragile contexts: Chad, eDRC, Somalia, Afghanistan? 1.5 billion people live in conflict and/or fragile contexts i.e. half of the O3b.
What does socially-conscious GSMA think? What do NGOs think? I will be looking out for reactions as we start to see the satellites reach their goal.
Meanwhile we can follow O3b on twitter and see more fun pictures of the four satelites like the one above…