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satellite and then the same distance to get to the user. The “last mile” became the last 44,000 miles
at best. And if yo u used a service that also pro vided satellite uplo ad as well as do wnlo ad, do uble
that to abo ut 88,000 miles. All that distance means higher latency (mo re delay).G. Ou, “Why
Satellite Service Is So Slo w,” ZDNet, February 23, 2008. A f irm named O3b Netwo rks thinks it might have so lved the challenges that plagued early pio neers.
O3b has an impressive list o f big-name backers that include HSBC bank, cable magnate Jo hn
Malo ne, Euro pean aero space f irm SES, and Go o gle. The name O3b stands f o r the “Other 3 Billio n,” o f the wo rld’s po pulatio n who lack bro adband
Internet access, and the f irm ho pes to pro vide “f iber-quality” wireless service to mo re than 150
co untries, specif ically targeting underserved po rtio ns o f the develo ping wo rld. These “middle earth
o rbit” satellites will circle clo ser to the earth to reduce latency (o nly abo ut 5,000 miles up, less than
o ne-f o urth the distance o f GEO systems). To maintain the lo wer o rbit, O3b’s satellites o rbit f aster
than the planet spins, but with plans to launch as many as twenty satellites, the system will co nstantly blanket regio ns served. If o ne satellite circles to the o ther side o f the glo be, ano ther o ne
will circle aro und to take its place, ensuring there’s always an O3b “bird” o verhead. Only abo ut 3 percent o f the sub-Saharan Af rican po pulatio n uses the Internet, co mpared to abo ut
70 percent in the United States. But data rates in the f ew places served can co st as much as o ne
hundred times the rates o f co mparable systems in the industrialized wo rld.G. Lamb, “O3b
Netwo rks: A Far-Out P lan to Deliver the Web,” Christian Science Mo nito r, September 24, 2008.
O3b ho pes to change that equatio n and signif icantly lo wer access rates. O3b custo mers will be lo cal
teleco mmunicatio n f irms, no t end users. The plan is f o r lo cal f irms to buy O3b’s services who lesale
and then resell it to custo mers alo ngside rivals who can do the same thing, co llectively pro viding...
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- Winter '14