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O3b Launches Four More Satellites To Bring Internet To 'Other 3 Billion' 80

Posted by timothy
from the from-above dept.
An anonymous reader writes "O3b Networks is aiming to provide internet access through satellite, to the "other three billion" people in under-served equatorial regions (Africa, the Pacific, South America). O3b launched four more satellites [Thursday], to add to the four they already have in orbit. This is a very international effort; a Russian Soyuz rocket went up from South America, carrying satellites built in France. There's a video of the rocket and payloads coming together and a video of the rocket launch. There's also an academic paper describing using the O3b system from the Cook Islands in the Pacific, giving an idea of what it does and those all-important ping times."
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O3b Launches Four More Satellites To Bring Internet To 'Other 3 Billion'

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  • Please put ping time in summary when posting satellite internet stories. I'm not here to RTFA.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      .15s between ground nodes, or 150ms. So a traditional ping would be about 300ms round trip.

      • Re:Ping (Score:5, Informative)

        by dhj (110274) * on Friday July 11, 2014 @09:30PM (#47435957)

        The 150 ms / 300 ms round trip was the "simulated" ping time. They ran real ping tests over 24 hours to the most remote coverage location at the Cook Islands. [wikipedia.org]

        One was from Surrey, England to the Cook Islands and averaged 570-800ms round trip -- the other was from California, US to the Cook Islands and averaged 420-620ms round trip. These were performed once per second for 24 hours and can be found in Figure 5 of the research paper. [arxiv.org]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If anyone is curious about this it is in the article.
      The article mentions 150ms mean for one-way ground-satellite-ground simulated communications between the Cook Island and the US.
      Although Figure 3 and 5 are more concise.
      Figure 3 shows:
      Ground to satellite communications between 60 and 80 ms, dependent on distance to the nearest satellite.
      Ground-satellite-ground communications between 135 and 155 ms, dependent on distance to the nearest satellite.
      Figure 5 shows:
      A sample data plot shows path delays from the

    • Once satellite is mentioned there is no need to mention ping times, if you went to high school you probably already know about the speed of light and that it's a long way up to geostationary orbit. Other stuff is lower but lag is expected whenever satellite is mentioned.
      So while you are correct there is probably not a single reader here that needed to be corrected.
      • by itzly (3699663)

        Once satellite is mentioned there is no need to mention ping times

        Oh ? You don't need to know the orbit, even ?

        • Oh ? You don't need to know the orbit, even ?

          Nice try at whatever you are attempting to do there, but it is always going to vastly exceed the time going via the much tighter curve of the Earth's surface even if it's as low as Iridium which is about as low as you get for a long term circularish orbit. (Spy sats get lower for short periods but have very elliptical orbits and don't last long).

          So to sum up ping times are going to vary from bad (Iridium) to very bad (nearly half way the the moon for geostationa

          • ping times are going to vary from bad (Iridium) to very bad (nearly half way the the moon for geostationary),

            Two things:

            Iridium orbit is ~780 km. Which means worst case ping times (due to the satellites) should be around 75 ms.

            Geostationary orbit is 35786 km up. Lunar orbit is 384400 km up. Note that "less than one tenth" is NOT "nearly halfway".

            • Consider geometry then try again.
              • I did. I assumed an upward leg to a satellite near the horizon, relay through five other satellites to the other side of the planet, then a downward leg. Then back.

                Note that I was only discussing speed of light lag, not lag caused by archaic hardware and other problems that apply equally well to links NOT using satellites.

                In other words, a satellite link should be ~75 ms worse than a wireless link that doesn't go through a satellite.

                Assuming satellites using Iridium's orbits, of course. A geosynchrono

                • by dbIII (701233)

                  Note that I was only discussing speed of light lag, not lag caused by archaic hardware and other problems that apply equally well to links NOT using satellites.

                  Fair enough - still sounds like it's not the full ping though. Did you only count a one way trip up? How about down to the ground then back up and down again which is what it has to do to reply? It looks like you did not but were pretty quick with the criticism about being sloppy just the same.

                  not lag caused by archaic hardware and other problems

                  • by itzly (3699663)

                    My point stands - if you care about ping times at all then satellites are not on the list unless they are the only thing available. If you don't care much about latency then they are worth considering.

                    Or you care about latency, and you still want to sell satellite connections, so you just fix the latency issues by improving current substandard technology.

                    • by dbIII (701233)
                      So who is doing that?
                      Until you have an answer my point stands in all cases. When you have an answer it stands in all cases apart from that one.
            • by dbIII (701233)

              Iridium orbit is ~780 km. Which means worst case ping times (due to the satellites) should be around 75 ms

              Wikipedia to the rescue! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iridium_Communications)
              "Latency for data connections is around 1800 ms round-trip, using small packets"

              However half way to the moon for a high orbit was a vast exaggeration on my part so sorry about that.

              • Won't argue with actual ping rates through Iridium. Merely pointing out that the lightspeed limits on the ping rate is in the vicinity of 75 ms. The rest of that is hardware issues, not issues with the satellites being so very far away. Note that a straight up-down-up-down query-response using only one Iridium satellite should have a FOUR millisecond round trip at lightspeed.
          • by itzly (3699663)
            Distance from me to Iridium satellite is less than distance to most other countries in the world. And yet, I can access international websites without too much discomfort.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    These aren't exaclty lucrative potential customers...
    Who's paying for this and why?

    • by tomhath (637240)
      A Nigerian prince.
    • Re:motive? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bjwest (14070) on Friday July 11, 2014 @10:30PM (#47436241)
      Like all corporate endeavorers, the motive is money. In a year or so when O3b files for bankruptcy, one of the big three (Comcast, AT&T or Verizon) will buy up the infrastructure for pennies on the dollar. The built out fees get eliminated in the bankruptcy, and then the profits start rolling in, just as planed.
    • Re:motive? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Miamicanes (730264) on Friday July 11, 2014 @11:31PM (#47436439)

      These aren't exaclty lucrative potential customers...
      Who's paying for this and why?

      Cruise ships. Especially in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and South China Sea. Two years from now, fast and semi-affordable shipboard internet will be a selling point and competitive advantage. Five years from now, it will be something every ship needs just to be taken seriously.

  • Every now and then humanity actually does something good. It is rare enough that I am in shock. I'll bet money that the people who benefit will make important contributions that effect all of us.
  • by Alopex (1973486) on Friday July 11, 2014 @09:42PM (#47436027)

    Maybe the other 3 billion will use a near limitless supply of knowledge for something other than watching cat videos.

    • by c6gunner (950153)

      Maybe the other 3 billion will use a near limitless supply of knowledge for something other than watching cat videos.

      Personally I can't wait to hear from the Kazakhstani Prince and the $20 million dollars he's having trouble moving ....

    • by pitchpipe (708843)
      You're right: porn. Gonna get even more variety, if that's even possible.
  • by kiatoa (66945) on Friday July 11, 2014 @10:18PM (#47436183) Homepage

    Yep, I was born and raised in the Cook Islands. How many other Cook islanders are reading Slashdot?

  • The Other 3 billion all have satellite dishes

    • O3b's business plan isn't currently about selling satellite dishes to individual subscribers. They plan to offer their service mostly to local internet providers, who would in turn provide local service using other technologies. I don't think it's likely that the local providers will have much interest in doing wired infrastructure; 3G or 4G wireless, or WiFi for smaller areas, are more likely.

  • People are living in (comparatively speaking, anyway) shithole ghetto countries with an extremely low standard of living, and you want them to get the Internet? Expensive Internet, at that? What the actual fuck? Only the 1% richest people in these 'equatorial regions' will end up with access, the poor will still be fucking poor and in many places starving. How about you invest that money in getting rid of local warlords, drug cartels, corrupt governments, and other assholes that profit from keeping people d
    • by Anonymous Coward

      How about you invest that money in helping people to improve their lives?

      That is what they are doing.

      the poor will still be fucking poor and in many places starving.

      Funny thing about starving, a person can only do it once. The word 'many' indicates the problem will soon solve itself.

    • by dbIII (701233) on Friday July 11, 2014 @11:37PM (#47436451)

      and you want them to get the Internet

      Substitute "books" or a video of "how to get clean water with scrapped parts" for that last word and you'll see what the big deal is.

      If you can't get in their shoes think of Hurricane Katrina and how the big deal in the aftermath is the lack of communications that resulted in food rotting when there were plenty of hungry people but the communications to direct the supply efforts were not there.

      How about you invest that money in getting rid of local warlords

      By investing the money in giving people the ability to talk about how to get rid of local warlords without having to gather in a public place and get hacked to death by machettes - something like this internet thing perhaps?

      • by kheldan (1460303)
        You can't compare any disaster like Katrina in this country (a 1st world country) to the everyday conditions in a 3rd world country where people are starving; there is no food to distribute so what does it matter if there is commication to help distribute what doesn't exist?

        You're ignoring my point about the local warlords. They already have money to spend because they take it from whoever they want. The warlords will be the one with the internet, not the civilians who, again, have nothing and will continu
        • by dbIII (701233)

          You can't compare any disaster like Katrina in this country

          Yes you can and it's an extremely useful analogy to use when attempting to communicate with people with very low empathy or understanding of anywhere beyond their shores.

          there is no food to distribute

          Read a book or go back to school before attempting to inflict such ignorance on others.

          • by kheldan (1460303)
            Do you have Aspergers? Or some heretofore undiscovered textual version of Turret's Syndrome? Reading just the first screenful or two of your recent comments leads me to believe that you do. Either that or you're just some shitty troll refugee from 4chan who couldn't cut it in that particular jungle. I'm honestly surprised that you're not posting as an Anonymous Coward. Oh, and before you protest my attacking you personally? You're the one that insulted me, so go fuck yourself, OK?
            • Sometimes a fucking stupid and insulting comment should be called something stronger than "not quite right" after the first polite attempt, especially if it's as inaccurate and downright offensive as "there is no food to distribute".
              You had your first polite reply, which was ignored, so why complain about someone being blunt enough to get a message across if that's what it takes?

              The USA - land of the 1930s dust bowl, obviously no food to distribute so no need for internet - or is it not obvious at all and
              • by kheldan (1460303)
                'Not agreeing/liking with what I'm saying' and 'being wrong' are two different things. Now please fuck off.
  • You're running out of places to hide.

  • This is a very international effort; a Russian Soyuz rocket went up from South America, carrying satellites built in France.

    And the launch vehicle burnt up quite spectacularly over the south of Australia recently after it had done it's job.

  • by pavera (320634) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @02:28AM (#47436791) Homepage Journal

    From rtfs, it seems o3b is aimed at the ISP market. I think this could be quite neat, they are aiming at being a backbone provider for say a local wireless ISP on a tropical island, this ISP sets up their terrestrial wifi equipment, and sets up a link to o3b for backhaul.

    This could transform the competitive landscape in a lot of these places where either a) becoming an ISP means signing a multi-thousands/mo deal with the 1 company that has pulled fiber under the sea for thousands of miles, or b) having no option, because the terrestrial land lines are all owned by the government run telco who has no interest in providing an upstart with bandwidth

    Of course, for this utopia of competition to break out, it assumes that o3b will be charging significantly less than whoever has pulled fiber under the sea, and that government regulation in all these countries doesn't simply preclude the business model by granting unlimited monopoly power to the government run telco. I know in the 2 south american countries I've visited this second hurdle is much larger than the first... The government owns the telco, thats the only way to get internet, period.

    But assuming I'm wrong about the regulatory landscape, and assuming o3b will have reasonable pricing, it almost becomes interesting to attempt to setup a wifi based ISP in some underserved country...

  • It's barely more an international effort than when the US launches a US built sat from the Cape on an Atlas V (using Russian RD180s): French Guyana is as much of France as Hawaii is of the US so both the sats & the launch location are French.

    But this is a post from Timothy so we all know that accuracy and absence of bias in the extract are too much to expect...

C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]

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