O3b Net­works

O3b Net­works is one of a new breed of satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tion providers to re­mote, chal­leng­ing, and in­suf­fi­ciently- con­nected mar­kets.

OffComm News - - FRONT PAGE -

In­sa­tiable de­mand for con­nec­tiv­ity is rais­ing a new breed of sat­com providers

In 2013, O3b suc­cess­fully launched four satel­lites, with four more fol­low­ing in July 2014. Th­ese satel­lites are now fully op­er­a­tional, de­liv­er­ing fi­bre- like qual­ity and per­for­mance to 180 coun­tries and more than 70% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion. Writ­ing for Of­fComm News Teresa Cot­tam caught up with VP of Global En­ter­prise, Si­mon Ma­her to find out why there’s a grow­ing buzz around O3b Net­works. OCN: Si­mon, as the new kids on the block, what do you think sets you apart from more fa­mil­iar names in the satel­lite in­dus­try?

SM: Firstly, I don’t ad­vo­cate that we’re about re­plac­ing fa­mil­iar names - in fact, our tech­nol­ogy is hugely com­ple­men­tary to ex­ist­ing in­vest­ments. In­stead it’s about us­ing our unique ca­pa­bil­i­ties to pro­vide more choice to oil & gas firms. We of­fer choices that haven’t pre­vi­ously been avail­able, shak­ing up the es­tab­lished norms for con­nec­tiv­ity in re­mote or chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ments. In the past, firms have of­ten had to choose be­tween per­for­mance and cost. Tra­di­tional GEO ca­pac­ity, for ex­am­ple, may be too ex­pen­sive while still not pro­vid­ing the speed that to­day’s firms are look­ing for. On the other hand, fi­bre isn’t al­ways avail­able or may not be re­li­able enough ( par­tic­u­larly where there’s geo- po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity, for ex­am­ple). With our tech­nol­ogy, not only can firms get the high- speed, re­li­a­bil­ity, and low- la­tency that they’re used to get­ting from fi­bre, they can also de­liver this fi­bre- like per­for­mance at a price- point that’s re­ally com­pelling. OCN: You high­lighted low la­tency as be­ing one of your key dif­fer­en­tia­tors, why is that so im­por­tant?

SM: Our la­tency fig­ures are pretty unique at sub 150 mil­lisec­onds for the round trip. This sets us apart in a mar­ket mov­ing to­wards a more real- time op­er­a­tional model, to boost op­er­a­tional per­for­mance. In ad­di­tion to in­creased pro­duc­tiv­ity though, real- time op­er­a­tion also en­ables firms to make bet­ter and safer de­ci­sions. De­lays to crit­i­cal real- time data due to high lev­els of la­tency there­fore not only threaten to raise costs, but also cre­ate pro­duc­tion and safety risks in this new op­er­a­tional mode. The high level of re­li­a­bil­ity and through­put we pro­vide, com­bined with re­ally low la­tency, al­lows firms to de­velop com­pletely new real- time ap­pli­ca­tions. Ef­fec­tively, we’re act­ing as the en­abler of, or the trans­port to, their real- time vi­sion. OCN: Re­li­a­bil­ity has long been a crit­i­cal is­sue for oil & gas firms, how can O3b help im­prove that?

SM: Un­doubt­edly, achiev­ing high lev­els of re­li­a­bil­ity is a fun­da­men­tal re­quire­ment for the in­dus­try to­day. In fact, that’s why many firms are push­ing to de­ploy fi­bre to off­shore in­stal­la­tions to get the level of re­li­a­bil­ity and per­for­mance they need. There are two typ­i­cal sce­nar­ios as to how we can help. Firstly, where fi­bre is de­ployed, firms are us­ing us to pro­vide a di­verse route to back that up. The con­se­quences if there’s an ou­tage or an ac­ci­dent, and the fi­bre link is lost or dis­rupted, can be pretty se­vere: the firm may have to stop drilling or even evac­u­ate the plat­form. That’s where we can step in and pro­vide that fi­bre- like per­for­mance to en­sure con­ti­nu­ity. Where fi­bre isn’t avail­able – for ex­am­ple on ul­tra deep wa­ter plat­forms or in ar­eas of po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity - we’re see­ing a sec­ond sce­nario, where cus­tomers are us­ing us to en­able a com­pletely new ar­chi­tec­ture. In this case we’re lit­er­ally rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing their per­for­mance by open­ing up the band­width bot­tle­neck. Now they can now roll out de­mand­ing data ser­vices where pre­vi­ously they only had nar­row­band and mo­bile voice ser­vices. OCN: Beyond op­er­a­tional per­for­mance does this de­liver any other ben­e­fits?

SM: Yes, when you have enough band­width, the low la­tency we talked about, and the re­li­a­bil­ity sorted out then you can de­liver to­tally new ways of work­ing. So one co­nun­drum fac­ing oil & gas

firms is to de­ter­mine where the best place is to put their in­cred­i­bly valu­able sub­ject mat­ter ex­perts. In­creas­ingly, they’re de­cid­ing to bring th­ese ex­perts back on­shore to a cen­tralised place where they’re safe and work­ing con­di­tions are bet­ter. But if you’re go­ing to do that, then th­ese ex­perts need real- time data in or­der to get their jobs done, along with HD com­mu­ni­ca­tions and per­haps video­con­fer­enc­ing to fa­cil­i­tate bet­ter col­lab­o­ra­tion and con­trol. Crew are also gen­er­ally be­com­ing much less tol­er­ant of con­strained com­mu­ni­ca­tions and are mak­ing con­tract choices based on the com­mu­ni­ca­tions fa­cil­i­ties that are pro­vided. That’s an is­sue that HR is in­creas­ingly flag­ging up as it bat­tles to re­cruit and re­tain the right peo­ple, demon­strat­ing how dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing ad­e­quate data com­mu­ni­ca­tions are th­ese days. OCN: Where is O3b cur­rently ac­tive Si­mon, and what sort of feed­back are you get­ting from early users of your tech­nol­ogy?

SM: O3b’s satel­lites are placed in or­bit 8062 kilo­me­tres above the earth, pro­vid­ing around 70% of the world's pop­u­la­tion with fi­bre­qual­ity in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity and en­abling us to support ser­vices glob­ally. We cover emerg­ing and in­suf­fi­ciently- con­nected mar­kets in Latin Amer­ica, Africa, the Mid­dle East, Asia and the Pa­cific, where there’s a col­lec­tive pop­u­la­tion of over three bil­lion peo­ple. We’ve been pretty ac­tive in the Gulf of Mex­ico and West Africa, and we now have up­wards of 30 cus­tomers in mar­kets rang­ing from the Cook Is­lands and Pa­pua New Guinea to the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo. The re­ac­tion to O3b’s ser­vice has been ab­so­lutely spec­tac­u­lar. Ser­vice statis­tics from cus­tomer field de­ploy­ments con­firm that we’re meet­ing or of­ten times, ex­ceed­ing our com­pre­hen­sive Ser­vice Level Agree­ments, in­clud­ing link up- time, la­tency and through­put. In fact, once they’ve tried what we have to of­fer, cus­tomers are so en­thused by what it en­ables, they’re de­ter­mined not to go back to the bad old nar­row­band days.

OCN: Thanks for talk­ing to us Si­mon. Do you have any last words?

SM: The key mes­sage is that O3b pro­vides you with choice. We ex­pand the choices avail­able to op­er­a­tors, and of­fer them fi­bre- like per­for­mance at a cost point that’s highly com­pet­i­tive, in places where you are of­ten not be able to reach with fi­bre.

Si­mon Ma­her, VP of global en­ter­prise sales, O3b Net­works

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