New satellite system to get developing world online

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Plans are afoot to build a new system of satellites that could bring the internet to people in Africa, Asia and South America online.

Satellite company O3b (Other three billion) has received US$60 million in first stage funding from Google, HSBC and Liberty Global to start a network of 16 low earth orbit satellites.

The network would deliver speeds of up to 10GBps the company claims and would be picked up by 3G Cellular/WiMax towers and distributed across the continents. The system is scheduled to go live by 2010.

“Access to the Internet backbone is still severely limited in emerging markets,” Greg Wyle, founder of O3b said.

“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.”

The US$60 million will only cover the first stage of the network and the final project will cost ten times as much and be funded by debt equity loans.

"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."
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