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How SES’ O3b mPower system shows future of global connectivity

By Prince Osuagwu
LUXEMBOURG-based provider of satellite communications, SES, announced a revolutionary and powerful network system tagged O3b power at a press conference in Paris recently.


The system appears the beginning of a new era in global cloud-scale connectivity and high power data services, if it will actually deliver the kind of efficiency attributed to it in high-performance network communications to users all around the world.

SES is the world-leading satellite operator and the first to deliver a differentiated and scalable Geostationary Earth Orbit and Medium Earth Orbit (GEO-MEO) offering worldwide. It has more than 50 satellites in (GEO) and 12 in MEO). SES focuses on value-added, end-to-end solutions in two key business units: SES Video and SES Networks. The company provides satellite communications services to broadcasters, content and internet service providers, mobile and fixed network operators, governments and institutions

The expandable and highly scalable O3b mPOWER system, according to SES, is capable of leveraging innovative space and ground technologies, and enables SES Networks to deliver fully-managed services in the dynamic mobility, fixed data and government markets. The solution is capable of delivering multiple terabits of throughput globally and is scheduled for launch starting in 2021.

The system will involve investing billions of dollars in a new constellation of satellites and adding more satellites to an existing network. According to the President and CEO of SES, Karim Michael Sabbagh, SES Networks’ investment in O3b mPower further showcases the confidence of SES overall in non-geostationary satellites.

Sabbagh, said “With the launch of O3b mPOWER, SES is opening a new era of connectivity, fundamentally transforming the role and capabilities of satellite. The system is unique with exponentially more power, performance and flexibility which sets the technology at the highest level, offering a visionary roadmap for next generation technology. We are leveraging the pole position we hold today by relying and building on the strengths of our existing O3b Medium Earth Orbit constellation.

“We are taking a long-term strategic commitment to further boost our capabilities, going beyond boundaries and redefining the frontiers of what satellite connectivity can accomplish. O3b mPOWER will be instrumental in empowering customers to massively scale up their businesses and capture new growth. This will enable us to further execute on our differentiated service offering and deliver profitable growth in line with our financial framework.”

He stated that the seven satellite system will, in addition to bringing substantial new capacity, eliminate the need for replacements of two legacy geostationary satellites. He added that for SES, “this is only the start of the journey. There will be further optimization of our geostationary fleet going further as we grow that particular system for data centric applications.”

Apparently indicating intent to have at least some of the O3b mPower satellites launched before ViaSat-3, CEO of SES Networks, Steve Collar, said the new constellation will be the first multi-terabit system in orbit.

He added that “we will be able to deliver anywhere from hundreds of megabits to 10 gigabits to any ship at sea, which sounds like a tremendous amount, but as we develop over the course of the next five to 10 years, that is the need that is going to be there.

“O3b mPower will have the ability to aim capacity at customers specifically, and avoid putting beams down in areas where none are present, he said. Software-defined routing will direct traffic between SES Network’s geostationary and medium-Earth orbit fleets”.

The fleet, built by Boeing, is designed to an area of nearly 400 million square kilometres.
According to Collar, the company’s goal is for the system to eventually reach any point on Earth.

“We designed O3b mPower as a system, not as a bunch of satellites, and not as limited to the first seven satellites that we launch. So O3b mPower will be and is conceived as being a fully global system”, he said.
Collar also revealed that O3b mPower system took about two years to design and culminated in a Boeing contract because of Boeing’s willingness to cooperatively design the constellation.

“It’s quite a departure from our standard product; very light, very powerful in how it can produce capability and get the resources where they need to go. When you open up the spacecraft, you are seeing bus components in there but very little payload. It’s all in this one piece”, he stated.


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