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O3b Networks raises US$1.2 billion, to finance satellite network

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Satellite based internet provider, O3b Networks says that it has secured the final funding round before its service launch. The company has raised a total of US$ 1.2 billion from a group of investors and banks. This will see the company through to the launch of its first satellites which will provide internet connectivity between developing markets and the global internet infrastructure.

The additional equity is being provided by a group of existing shareholders that includes Google, North Bridge Venture Partners and Allen & Company, with SES, Liberty Global and HSBC Principal Investments taking the leading role. New investors include the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Sofina and Satya Capital. With this final round of funding, SES will become the largest minority shareholder of O3b Networks and will provide in-kind services, including commercial and engineering expertise.

John W. Dick Chairman of O3b Networks Limited said: "We are pleased to have the new shareholders supporting this important mission. The amount of new funding and the quality of the investors reflects O3b Networks' ability to balance important social goals while maintaining the required private sector returns. Furthermore, I believe that O3b represents a major step change in the economics of connectivity for the developing world. The backing of the world's leaders in internet, banking, cable and satellite underlines O3b's significant role in connecting all the world's people."

O3b stands for the "Other 3 billion", a reference to nearly half of the world's population that is not adequately served with broadband internet access.

O3b's satellites will be placed in orbit 8,000 kilometers from the earth, four times closer to the planet than regular geostationary satellites, giving customers extremely low latency and providing access to approximately 70 percent of the world's population with fiber quality internet connectivity.

Thales Alenia Space is currently constructing O3b's first eight medium earth orbit Ka-band satellites. The design of the system means that it will be possible to add many more satellites to the constellation, increasing capacity and transforming satellite communications for the developing world.

O3b aims to begin commercial service during the first half of 2013 following the planned launch of the first eight satellites by Arianespace with a Soyuz launcher from French Guiana. ViaSat will provide the teleport and trunking product customer terminals.

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