Most satellite internet and data services are from satellites in geosynchronous orbit – a little over 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface. That distance increases the time it takes for data signals to travel. O3b’s satellites, on the other hand, are only about 5000 miles above the Earth’s surface. That decreases the latency to a point that’s competitive with fiberoptic services.
Good to see these guys finally launch. Last time I wrote about o3B Networks was back in 2008/2009. O3B is joining a crowded market of backhaul providers, especially in Africa, where over 25Tb/s was completed in the time it took to launch the satellite network. All of this access is being built in advance of a swell of online usage on the continent. As of 2013, only 15% of the continent has access to the internet. That’s 150 million Africans only consuming just 1Tb of bandwidth.
When you factor in that 50% of the continent is under 15 and 1 billion mobile connections are projected by 2016, right now is the time to build that killer app or service targeted at the next generation of digital Africans.