Thursday, September 11, 2008

Google invests in O3b Networks

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Africa Blog)

An important aspect of Google's mission is to make information universally accessible. Unfortunately, in many less developed areas of the world, particularly countries in Africa, access to the Internet is scarce and expensive. Today, we are pleased to let you know about one way we're helping to address this problem: by investing in O3b Networks. O3b's mission is to provide high-speed, low-cost Internet connectivity to the "other 3 billion" people in emerging markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

Most of today's developed countries are linked by thousands of kilometers of submarine fiber optic cables to carry core Internet traffic. This is a very cost-effective solution, once the fiber is in place; but in many developing and remote areas, fiber isn't available due to economic and sometimes political roadblocks. Though existing geo-synchronous satellites are able to reach theses areas, they provide slow Internet connectivity because of their distance from the Earth - and they're expensive and often fully subscribed. O3b plans to deliver fiber-like Internet backhaul service using a constellation of medium-orbit satellites. This means data can be quickly transmitted to and from even the most remote locations such as inland Africa or small Pacific islands.

The O3b satellite constellation will provide high-speed, low-latency backhaul services at speeds reaching into the gigabits per second. The satellites will orbit the earth at about one-third the altitude of a geo-synchronous satellite, which means it takes less time for data to travel up and back. This low latency translates into better voice connections as well as a snappier web experience.

O3b is currently planning to begin service beginning in late 2010. We are very excited about the prospects for O3b and its shared mission of bringing access to those parts of the world that need it most.


Andrew said...

Thanks, Google!

T-Tester said...

Thanks Google.

When we get some more information?

Greetings Markus

sergio said...

I read with interest the articles «Google backs space-age project to connect 3bn to net via satellite » and « Space offers high-speed Net access to Africa » recently published on the Financial Times. These articles describe the "O3b Networks" venture capital initiative undertaken by Google, HSBC and Liberty Global aiming at bringing internet access to 3 billion people in Africa and other emerging markets.

The European Union, with about 60% of the total international development assistance to poor countries, is by far the world leading donor. To give you an idea, in 2007 the European Union committed about 10 billion €uro in international Aid and economic co-operation assistance. Almost 40% in value of this aids will finance interventions of various nature in Africa (i.e. food aid, investments in physical infrastructures, technical assistance to Governments, etc.).

What it may surprise is that EU sponsored investments in "ICT infrastructure" and "new technologies" remain today very marginal (e.g. EU funded investments in communication infrastructure were in 2007 of only 50 Millions €!). This mainly because nowadays there is very little knowledge and understanding about the substantial contribution that "new technologies" can give to the social and economic development of a poor countries/regions.

I am convinced that the described trend can be changed provided that an "ad hoc" industry strategy is put in place. This strategy should aim at raising the profile of the IT industry vis-à-vis the international donors community and, more in practice, by having IT industry playing a more active and decisive role in the formulation of Europe Union's development policies/strategies for poor countries.

The ultimate aim of this strategy would be to have "new technologies" recognized as one of the key factors enabling both poverty reduction and improve living conditions of billions of people worldwide and, as consequence, having the donors community orienting their aid in this area. At stake there are financial aids that are estimate of billion of Euro every year!

Who writes has a considerable knowledge and experience in both European Union's policies as well as in the formulation and management of EU funds for External-Aid.

I would welcome your views on the above and, where possible, to discuss this issue with you in person.

Kind Regards

Sergio Mastropierro