O3B Highlights: At a high level, please describe O3B´s value proposition and the key differentiators when compared to FSS players, both conventional (Ku-band, C-band) and HTS (ka-band, ku-band)
Trujillo: O3b’s value proposition is providing low latency, high throughput satellite broadband connectivity at the most cost effective price.
SP: The first four satellites were successfully launched and there is a new launch coming up in September for four more satellites. It is understood that O3B will be ready to start commercial services with the 8 satellites. Can you let us know what month in 2013 will commercial services start?
Trujillo: O3B has just announced (today) that the launch of the second batch of 4 satellites has been delayed. Commercial Services were planned for November 2013 for the first customers, but with a new launch date expected to be in Q1 2014, commercial services will have to start in Q1/Q2 2014.
New dates for the launch and start of commercial operation will be confirmed in due course. The delay is to allow time for further testing. The first 4 satellites, which were launched earlier this year, recently completed their in-orbit testing and are operating successfully in orbit.
SP: How much aggregate bandwidth will the constellation composed of the first 8 satellites be able to provide per region? How much of the capacity of the first 8 satellites is pre-booked? Can you let us know the names of the first customers and where those initial deployments will be?
Trujillo: Each satellite in the constellation provides 10 beams at 1.2 Gbps/beam. There are 7 regions so total system capacity is 84 Gbps. Over 50% of the beams in the initial constellation are pre-booked. Names of first customers are on our website and include Digicel, Ozonio, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Gulfsat and Maju Nusa
Watch the O3B Coverage Animation
CAPEX and OPEX
SP: Please give us an idea of the price that satcom users should expect for the O3B service and cost of terminals.
Trujillo: The value in the O3b service is going to be the savings in OPEX. The payback period for most customers is typically 12-18 months or less. Here are some terminal equipment estimates. Note that the 1.2M is the stabilized Marine antenna, therefore, more costly than the larger 2.4M
Equipment costs for a remote ground terminal including 2 antennas, 2 BUCs and 2 modems with integration materials are typically in the range of $40-$100K, depending on antenna size, BUC power and modem speed.
Comparison against GEO FSS
SP: The satcom business is known for tradeoffs that exist among key service variables like bandwidth costs, hardware price and service availability. O3B´s cost for satellite bandwidth is substantially lower than that of traditional FSS capacity but terminals are of higher complexity.
Given this, and disregarding for a moment the low-latency advantage of MEO constellations: What is the minimum link data rate (in Mbps) that O3B envisions will make services so compelling that will be a “no brainer decision” for satellite service providers when compared against traditional FSS (Ku and C band) ?
Trujillo: Customers usually look at the overall solution provided and the problem it solves for them. O3b’s Low latency allows some Database applications to work from remote sites thus providing a solution that previously would not work or require costly work around. We are seeing this in the Energy Market. O3b’s High throughput capability of 1 Gbps provides a solution not available anywhere else presently. The lower cost solution allows customer to get an advantage in the market they are in. In a nutshell, O3b’s advantages provide the customer with solutions that address the customer needs. O3b is providing the most cost effective satellite based solution in the market today and that is independent of any minimum data rate, so it is already a “no brainer”.
Can you also share with us an idea of what minimum link data rates would make O3B´s service more compelling than FSS (GEO) HTS Ka-band services, if applicable?
Trujillo: Most Ka Band FSS (GEO) HTS satellites offer services with no QOS and SLA. O3b provides services with both QOS and SLA and our customers tend to be carriers and large ISPs rather than consumers. Our target markets are very different and our offerings are very different. We are not compared against them in deals we have seen.
SCPC vs TDMA
SP: Currently, high data rate point-to-point applications tend to use SCPC modem technology in FSS deployments. Does O3B envision a similar scenario for MEO? Could there be circumstances where a point-to-multipoint network with TDMA returns would be preferred?
Trujillo: Point to Point and Point to Multipoint topologies for service are driven by customer needs. O3b offers SCPC based Point to Point services using the Viasat Meolink modem and the Comtech CDM 760 modem, O3b also offers Point to Multipoint services via the Viasat Meolink modem, the Gilat meoEdge system and the Comtech Advanced VSAT system. TDMA return could be preferred for lower throughput/thin-route enterprise sites as it does provide some advantages and we are actively evaluating options.
SP: Current satellite modem technology is highly efficient but, to further drive efficiencies, is O3B also considering use of application-level optimization such as 3G optimizers or IP compressors, or will these functions be up to end users to implement:
Trujillo: Yes, WAN optimization is used even on low latency terrestrial links. On O3b links, we believe that some customers can benefit by getting more throughputs within their contracted bandwidth and better application performance. However, these elements introduce additional complexity as they operate higher up on the network stack. So they require more expertise to configure, manage, and troubleshoot. And since most applications perform satisfactorily with the latency over a MEO link, optimization is not an imperative as it is on GEO links. There will be a variety of ways in which optimization will be brought to the market for specific segments by us – so stay tuned!
SP: O3B says that the gateways are strategically located on high-traffic Internet backbone locations. How many gateways are planed for the operation and where are the O3B gateways located?
Trujillo: Gateways are in Texas, Hawaii, West and Southeast Australia, Pakistan, Greece, Portugal, Brazil and Peru [see coverage map and gateways]
SP: Are handovers seamlessly handed so that users do not experience a temporary degradation of IP throughput when the link is transitioning from one satellite to another?
Trujillo: Handovers are transparent to users who will always receive the contracted data rate or higher throughput, before, during or after handover.
SP: O3B has certainly come a long way and the industry as a whole is excited about this new service paradigm of Ka-band MEO constellation. It sure has been a lot of work to reach this point of being close to commercial services. Can you please list the main challenges faced by O3B over the past several years and what new challenges are anticipated in this new era of high-speed MEO satcom that O3B is pioneering?
Trujillo: Main challenge was creating and launching a new constellation. The new challenge is getting the market to understand that O3b can reliably support current and new applications that have never been supported by any satellite before. The market for satellite services just got bigger as a result and O3b looks forward to the innovation and creativity that will derive from that market expansion.
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