O3b links with Google

Via NYtimes:

Satellite company O3b Networks has linked up with Google and other investors to bring cheaper, high-speed wireless Internet access to areas unlikely to see investments in fiber infrastructure.

O3b stands for “other 3 billion,” a reference to the world’s population that still can’t access the Internet. O3b, which is based in the U.K.’s Channel Islands, said construction is under way on 16 satellites that will drop the cost for ISPs and operators to provide Internet access over 3G (third-generation) and WiMax networks.

Those satellites will provide backhaul capacity, also known as “trunking,” for ISPs (Internet service providers) and operators, essentially moving large amounts of data wirelessly between points where fiber-optic cable has not been dug into the ground, said Greg Wyler, O3b’s founder and CEO.

Developed countries benefited from an explosive laying of undersea fiber cables in the late 1990s, Wyler said. But as those high-capacity networks were created, demand dropped. Many fiber companies went out of business, then their assets were bought on the cheap, fostering the subsequent boom in inexpensive broadband subscription offerings, he said.

But “the emerging markets never saw that exuberance,” Wyler said. “Usage is growing and the demand is growing, but there isn’t the infrastructure to support the demand.”

Digging trenches for fiber networks in underdeveloped countries isn’t financially feasible, so the alternative is developing a low-latency backhaul network in the sky, Wyler said. Up to 40 percent of a mobile operators’ costs are consumed building transmission capacity between its home network and thousands of transmission towers, Wyler said. Laying fiber is expensive, however…