The competition heats up: A Russian Soyuz rocket successfully launched four commercial broadband satellites today for French Guiana.
The constellation’s orbit is designed to provide high-bandwidth Internet links to land masses located between 45 degrees north and 45 degrees south of the equator, which means mainly the developing world.
An interesting historical note of this story is that
O3b and SES officials have said that the company has regulatory rights to sufficient spectrum to put as many as 120 satellites in the same unusual orbit. O3b is making use of radio spectrum originally won, following a long battle, by a U.S. company called Teledesic, which had envisioned more than 800 satellites to provide broadband links worldwide. Teledesic ceased operations before launching its satellites.
Teledesic was a $9 billion satellite constellation proposed by Bill Gates back in 1998. They only launched one satellite, Teledesic 1, which was a failure. That this project has essentially come back to life fifteen years later is most intriguing.