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O3b Signs Agreement with Arianespace for Third Soyuz Launch
Dec 09, 2011 (05:12 PM EST)

Launch of O3b Networks satellite constellation will provide service to more than 150 countries

EVRY, France, Dec. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- O3b Networks Limited, the developer of a new global, high-speed, satellite-based internet network for telecommunications operators and ISPs, has exercised the first of the two options in its contract with Arianespace for an additional launch in 2014 for the O3b Networks' satellite constellation. By exercising this option, O3b has allocated a total of three launches of 12 satellites to Arianespace. 

The first eight O3b satellites are planned to be lofted into orbit during 2013 by two Soyuz launch vehicles operating from the Guiana Space Center, Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana. Each satellite will weigh about 700kg at launch, has a design life of 10 years, and provides greater than 10 Gbps of capacity. The satellites will be positioned in medium Earth orbit at an altitude of just over 8000km. Arianespace will now launch a third tranche of four satellites for O3b from the CSG in 2014 on a Soyuz. In addition, Arianespace is beginning construction of a third dispenser and is accelerating the launch schedule allowing O3b to meet the growing capacity needs of its customers.

O3b Networks Ltd., based in Jersey (Channel Islands) whose investors include SES, Google Inc., Liberty Global Inc., and HSBC, plans to deploy a new satellite infrastructure providing broadband internet access to emerging countries.  More than 3 billion people in Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East will benefit from O3b's new broadband internet infrastructure.  The satellites will be built by Thales Alenia Space.

"With Soyuz, Arianespace offers O3b a great solution that will enable faster, better and more affordable services to our customers as we expand the O3b constellation from 8 to 12 satellites," said Steve Collar, O3b Chief Executive Officer.  

"We are delighted O3b has entrusted a third launch to us," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace. "The selection of Soyuz, which is one of the most reliable launch vehicles in the world, clearly shows the strategic nature of our mission, namely to provide timely and successful launches of O3b's satellites."

O3b stands for the "Other 3 billion", a reference to nearly half of the world's population that is not adequately served with broadband internet access. Through partnerships with telecommunications providers and internet service providers (ISPs), O3b will be able to combine the speed of a fiber optic network with the global reach of a satellite system to serve billions.

Based on O3b's current spectrum allocation, the company plans to initially launch up to 20 satellites. O3b satellites will be placed in orbit nearly 8,000 kilometers from the earth, four times closer to the planet than regular geostationary satellites, giving customers extremely low latency and providing access to approximately 70 per cent of the world's population with fiber quality internet connectivity.

About Arianespace

Arianespace is the world's leading launch service & solutions company, providing innovation to its customers since 1980. Backed by 21 shareholders and the European Space Agency, Arianespace offers an unrivalled family of launchers, comprising Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega, and an international workforce renowned for a culture of commitment and excellence. As of 9 December 2011, Arianespace had launched with Ariane launchers a total of 298 payloads, including more than half of all the commercial satellites now in service worldwide. It has a backlog of 21 Ariane 5 and 17 Soyuz launches, equal to more than three years of business.

SOURCE Arianespace