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‘Fast, cheap’ Internet satellites launched

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Posted June 26, 2013

The first four of 12 satellites in a new constellation to provide affordable, high-speed Internet to people in nearly 180 “under-connected” countries were blasted into Space on Tuesday.

The orbiters, part of a project dubbed O3b, for the “other 3 billion” people with restricted Internet access, were lifted by a Russian Soyuz rocket from Kourou in French Guiana at 1927 GMT, according to a live broadcast on the website of launch company Arianespace.

The project was born from the frustrations of US Internet pioneer Greg Wyler with the inadequacy of Rwanda’s telecommunications network while travelling there in 2007.

He came up with a plan to bypass costly ground-based infrastructure like fibre-optics or cables by deploying a constellation of small satellites around the equator to serve as a spatial relay between users and the worldwide web using only satellite dishes.

Such a system would cover a region between the latitudes of 45 degrees North and 45 degrees South—the entire African continent, most of Latin America, the Middle East, southeast Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands.

“Today, a life-changing journey has begun for many of the remaining unconnected and underserved regions of the world,” O3B chairman John Dick said in a statement.

“Working with our customers, O3b will open up a new and exciting world to billions of people who, up to now, have not experienced the benefits of fast Internet connectivity and who, as a result, are not on a level playing field,” he added.

There are already geostationary satellites providing this type of services, but at a prohibitive cost for many end-users in this region.

Read more at: Phys.org

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