Satellite communications firm O3b Networks, which is backed by investors such as Google, said it has raised $1.2 billion from a group of investors and banks to support the launch of a series of satellites that will provide low-latency, fiber-quality internet connectivity between developing markets and the global internet infrastructure.
Jersey, Channel Islands-based O3b Networks is the developer of a new fiber-quality, satellite-based global internet backbone for Telecommunications Operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) serving the emerging markets.
O3b said the total funding now consists of a $510 million Coface-backed Senior Debt Facility provided by HSBC, ING, CA-CIB and Dexia and $410 million in equity financing.
The additional equity is being provided by a group of existing shareholders that includes Google, North Bridge Venture Partners and Allen & Company, with SES, Liberty Global and HSBC Principal Investments taking the leading role. New investors include the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Sofina and Satya Capital.
I am delighted that we are now fully funded and working towards a firm launch date. This news means that we are now truly on the map - our customers can be assured that O3b is a reality, O3b Chief Executive Mark Rigolle said in a statement.
O3b stands for the Other 3 billion, a reference to nearly half of the world's population that is not adequately served with broadband internet access.
The O3b system is expected to provide Telcos and ISPs with a low-cost, high-speed alternative to connect their 3G, WiMAX and fixed-line networks to the rest of the world, allowing billions of consumers and businesses in more than 150 countries to benefit from high-speed internet connectivity.
Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales SA and Finmeccanica SpA, is currently constructing O3b's first eight Ka-band satellites.
O3b's satellites will be placed in orbit 8,000 kilometers from the earth, four times closer to the planet than regular geostationary satellites, giving customers extremely low latency and providing access to about 70 per cent of the world's population with fiber quality internet connectivity.
O3b, which was founded in 2007 by Greg Wyler, will begin commercial service during the first half of 2013 following the planned launch of the first eight satellites by Arianespace with a Soyuz launcher from French Guiana.