03b Signs Backhaul Deal with Abu Dhabi’s Etisalat

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PARIS — Startup satellite broadband wholesaler O3b Networks Ltd. has signed a framework agreement with telecommunications operator Etisalat of Abu Dhabi to provide cellular backhaul and trunking services for five years via O3b’s planned eight-satellite network, the two companies announced Feb. 9.

O3b, based in Britain’s Channel Islands, in November completed a $1.2 billion financing round that will permit it to build and launch eight satellites into an 8,000-kilometer equatorial orbit to provide Ka-band links to telecommunications operators located along the equator.

O3b has scheduled the launch of its satellites, in two groups of four aboard Russian Soyuz rockets operated from Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport, for 2013. Etisalat operates subsidiaries in 18 nations.

“Our framework agreement with O3b Networks will allow us to provide our subsidiaries across the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia with state-of-the-art satellite broadband services. This will provide each subsidiary with a competitive advantage in its own market, allowing it to reduce costs and increase network efficiency,” Etisalat Chief Carrier Services Officer Saeed Al Bahhar said in a statement.

In response to Space News inquiries, O3b Marketing Vice President Luisa Sorrentino said Feb. 10 the agreement with Etisalat does not include a ceiling on the capacity to be guaranteed.

“The O3b constellation is capable of meeting operators’ future capacity on a continuous basis for the foreseeable future,” Sorrentino said. “I don’t see any likelihood that we could not service Etisalat’s capacity needs through current planned or future launches. … We simply introduce additional capacity to the system according to demand, via additional satellites. There is no ceiling.”

 

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