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Monday, November 9, 2009


03b Networks has an ambitious goal. Their mission statement reads:
"At O3b Networks, our mission is to make the Internet accessible and affordable to everyone on the planet. We will enrich lives and ensure equal and fair access to information through ubiquitous, high-speed connectivity to the world’s content and applications."

Their corporate slogan, "Connecting the other 3 billion," is just as visionary.

With speeds up to and exceeding 10 Gbps, O3b Networks plans to launch a satellite-based telecommunications infrastructure that will encircle the globe with an innovative system of redundant low-orbit satellites configured as a redundant communications array.

Their self-healing network is based on a technique familiar to some of us from a common and standard server and storage technology: RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks). But instead of spreading the data redundantly throughout a series of five or more hard disks, 03b plans to apply the technique to a series of moving network access points hurling high above the horizon.

I have no idea how they solved the "latency" problem, since satellite communications has historically always had an unavoidable delay. But 03b claims that their network will have no more than a 130 millisecond delay.

Wide-scale Internet access may not be major news in the developed world, but in the remote outskirts of Latin America, Asia, and Africa, this will be a big deal. Low-cost and ubiquitous Internet access is bound to become a significant economic enabler to regions of the world not yet participating the Internet revolution.

Perhaps someday the term "Digital Divide" will become an anachronism.