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Effort Launched to Provide Low-Cost Satellite-Based Internet Access

Most people in the United States have several ways to connect to the Internet—cable modem, DSL, 3G wireless or even Wi-Fi at Starbucks. However, elsewhere in the world and even in some rural areas in this country, the only option is an expensive satellite modem connection with limited bandwidth and high latency. These "Other Three Billion" (O3B) people without low cost and high speed connectivity are the ones being targeted by O3B Networks' constellation of 16 medium earth orbit satellites.

A recent announcement by O3B Networks said the network's 2,300 transponder equivalents will deliver low-latency Internet back haul at speeds approaching 10 Gbps. O3B is targeting Internet service providers (ISPs) in markets where bandwidth is limited due to geographic, economic, or political barriers. Because the satellites will be placed 5,000 miles above the earth, latency is approximately one fifth that of geostationary satellite providers.

Google is one of the companies providing funding for the venture.

"O3B's model empowers local entrepreneurs and companies to deliver Internet and mobile services to those in currently under served or remote locations at speeds necessary to power rich Web-based applications" said Larry Alder, Google alternative access team product manager. "We believe in O3B's model and its goal of expanding the reach of the Internet to users who currently have limited and expensive connection options as it complements our mission of organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful."

O3B Networks was founded by entrepreneur Greg Wyler, who envisions a better world once high speed Internet service is available globally.

"Access to the Internet backbone is still severely limited in emerging markets," said Wyler. "Only when emerging markets achieve affordable and ubiquitous access to the rest of the world will we observe locally generated content, widespread e-learning, telemedicine and many more enablers to social and economic growth which reflect the true value of the Internet. O3B Networks will bring multi-gigabit Internet speeds directly to the emerging markets, whether landlocked in Africa or isolated by water in the Pacific Islands."

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.