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O3b get launch date for next satellites

Tuesday April 29, 2014 Written by Published in Technology
Channel Islands-based company O3b sent its first four satellites into orbit last year. 14042415 Channel Islands-based company O3b sent its first four satellites into orbit last year. 14042415

Internet provider O3b is preparing to launch its second group of four satellites in June, which should provide a more robust service for Cook Islanders.

The Channel Islands-based company said the satellites are currently being transported from the Thales Alenia Space facility in Rome to the launch site of Le Centre Spatial Guyanais in French Guiana.

“The company’s first four satellites, which were launched in 2013, are operating successfully in orbit. Telecom Cook Islands was the first customer to be brought up on the constellation earlier this year. Many more customers are completing testing and will be turning up commercial service before the next launch,” O3b said in a statement.

Chief executive Steve Collar said the second group of satellites will be launched in late June.

“In the meantime, we continue to roll out our commercial service, bringing up customers on the initial constellation.”

Telecom Cook Islands launched its much-hyped O3b fast internet in mid-March, after months of testing.

O3b had originally been reluctant to switch on its service until having eight satellites in orbit, before changing their minds.

John Turnbull, Director of O3b Pacific, was here for the March launch party and said Telecom’s rigorous testing proved the service worked just as well on four satellites as it would on eight.

“The testing here went really well and we realised there was no reason we couldn’t turn the service on. It essentially works the same.”

He said the Cook Islands’ geographical location means the satellites are never far enough away to affect the quality of broadband.

“We’ve realised there are some nations we can do on four.”

Telecom has transmitters which track one satellite at a time - from horizon to horizon - switching to the next satellite every 90 minutes.

When eight satellites are in orbit, the handover will take place every 45 minutes, providing a more robust service.

Telecom will be keeping its existing geostationary satellite service in place, in case of any future problems.

Rarotonga is the first to benefit from 03b and Telecom is hoping to extend the service to the entire Southern Group by the end of this year.

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