FCC grants SES O3b fleet expansion

08 June 2018 | Natalie Bannerman

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted SES permission to expand its US O3b fleet in the Medium Earth Orbit (MEO).

O3b Satellite 300x424By enabling the grant the SES has access to additional frequencies to use in its non-geostationary (NGSO) constellation and enables it to deploy O3b mPOWER satellites into inclined and equatorial orbits, delivering full global pole-to-pole coverage.

"This important FCC grant provides SES with the means to grow and scale our network, connecting the planet and delivering world class solutions to our customers globally," said Steve Collar, president and CEO of SES. "With the first 7 O3b mPOWER satellites, we will deliver a paradigm shift in performance, bandwidth and service. The FCC grant provides the platform to exponentially scale the network in response to surging demand for global data connectivity."

As a result a total of 26 new O3b satellites have been authorised, in addition to the existing 16 already operational and in orbit. The grant allows SES to add 4 satellites to its existing constellation, which are scheduled for launch in 2019. Additionally the grant gives SES the framework to triple its O3b mPOWER fleet by giving it US market access for another 22 high-powered satellites, 7 of which are already in construction and scheduled for launch in 2021.

The O3b mPOWER constellation will deliver added scale and flexibility to the O3b MEO model. The 7 O3b mPOWER MEO satellites that SES has ordered will have more than 30,000 dynamic, electronically-generated, fully-shapeable and steerable beams that can be shifted and switched in real time following customers’ needs. Each satellite boasts more than 10 times the capability of the current O3b satellites with increased flexibility.

SES first announced its plans to launch the O3b satellite network back in September 2017. At the time the company said it would "create an environment of service and technology partners around the world, which will invest in ground infrastructure innovations."

But SES aren’t the only satt comms company lobbying the FCC in the space arena these days. In February, Elon Musk’s SpaceX was endorsed by the FCC to build a satellite-based internet network. Pai said that SpaceX is helping to bridge America’s digital divide particularly in the country’s hard to reach rural areas.

Topics: Federal Communications Commission, FCC, SES, Satellite, O3b, Steve Collar, SpaceX, Space, Networks