In what is said to be a landmark for the medium-Earth orbit (MEO) programme, completing the number of craft that the believes are required to offer high-performance network services delivering high throughput, predictable low latency, unique flexibility and service availability, satellite operator SES has announced that two additional O3b mPOWER satellites have successfully launched into space.
O3b mPOWER systems are designed to operate in the medium Earth orbit. The first O3b mPOWER craft was launched in 2021 and the system became fully operational in 2022. Looking to gain traction with customers across geographies and market segments, O3b mPOWER will offer what the operator claims will be an unprecedented increase in flexibility and throughput speed and capacity. O3b mPOWER commercial service is expected to begin during the second quarter of 2024.
In August 2021, SES announced Microsoft as the first cloud provider customer for O3b mPOWER. SES was confident that Microsoft could use the MEO craft’s “unprecedented” increase in flexibility and throughput speed and capacity to any Azure network location on Earth.
SES is colocating four of its O3b mPOWER gateways at or near Azure datacentres and is the founding MEO satellite connectivity partner for Microsoft Azure Orbital. Other O3b mPOWER customers include Orange for enhanced enterprise and mobile networks, and cruise operators such as Carnival and Virgin Voyages.
The fifth and sixth satellites in the constellation in the portfolio were delivered into space by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in the US. The first four O3b mPOWER satellites launched over the course of the last year have arrived at their target orbital position and are undergoing in-orbit checks, including a series of system validation tests encompassing both space and ground components.
“With the fifth and sixth O3b mPOWER satellites launched and going operational in the next few months, we are gearing up to deliver the high-performance connectivity services our customers need,” said SES CEO Ruy Pinto commenting on the launch. “By building resiliency into the network, we are confident our customers will be able to depend on us to deliver the reliable and secure connectivity required to run their operations.”
To date in 2023, SES has rolled out and tested more than 160 O3b mPOWER terminals over the existing O3b constellation to serve mobility, telecom, government, and enterprise customers. In October 2023, SES announced it will add to the constellation two more satellites built by Boeing, bringing the total number of O3b mPOWER satellites to 13. The additional investment is expected to be covered within SES's existing committed CapEx envelope.
Read more about satellite connectivity
- Satellite connectivity industry to gain even higher orbit: Reports from leading analysis firms predict strong growth in satellite connectivity sector as integration of satellite capabilities in mass-market smartphones marks significant leap in expanding connectivity to remote areas.
- CGI, Eutelsat OneWeb, Icomera pilot satellite broadband for UK trains: IT and business consulting services reveal live trials to demonstrate how integrated low-earth orbit satellite and terrestrial communications networks can provide seamless, low latency broadband connectivity on Britain’s rail network.
- Telstra inks Starlink first as OneWeb gains Momentum for LATAM connectivity: Further expansion in satellite connectivity as leading Australia-based telco inks deal with Elon Musk-led satellite firm while enterprise connectivity services provider looks to LEO satellite operator to connect remote areas.
- Europe’s cellular networks viable alternatives to broadband, LEO satellites: Research finds that 5G download speeds of nearly 1Gbps were found in four out of the top five cities tested and were equal to that of satellite and fixed networks.