Is O3b embracing polar coverage?

O3b with added north pole coverage. Click to see large animation.

Possible O3b coverage, adding northern inclined elliptical-orbit satellites. Created with SaVi.

In 2014, my students and I published a journal paper in the British Interplanetary Society.

We suggested that a global broadband trunking high-throughput satellite service could be created, and relatively inexpensively when compared to proposed large-scale low-orbit satellite constellations planning to use hundreds of satellites. We outlined reusing a 1990s proposal, taking the elliptical orbits that had been worked out for that, adding satellites using those high-inclination orbits to the satellites orbiting in the then newly-operational equatorial O3b constellation, and providing service coverage to the poles.

In 2016, O3b Networks announced that they were considering adding high-inclination satellites to their constellation.

In November 2016, O3b filed with the FCC for two inclined circular planes of satellites, able to cover both poles.


Amendment to Application to Modify U.S. Market Access Grant for the O3b Medium Earth Orbit Satellite System, O3b Limited, 15 November 2016.
The O3bI satellites will have coverage of the entire Earth with their inclined orbit of 70 degrees.
ViaSat and O3b, now distant neighbors, eye confrontation in medium-Earth orbit, Peter de Selding, Space News, 21 November 2016.

"will launch inclined planes to augment," Steve Collar, O3b Networks CEO, Twitter, 29 April 2016.
"We love equatorial - it is by miles the most efficient for low cost/Mbps but will launch inclined planes to augment"
SES takes full control of O3b, Bill Ostrove, Forecast International, 29 April 2016.
"Some of those satellites may also operate in elliptical orbits, which will increase O3b's capacity over polar regions."
SES takes control of O3b, citing synergies between GEO, MEO constellations, Peter de Selding, Space News, 29 April 2016.
"Addressing a conference call with investors, Sabbagh said O3b, which has eight more satellites on order and scheduled to launch by late 2019, eventually would extend its reach to the polar regions by launching satellites in high-inclination orbits."

"Sabbagh: Future O3b sats will be in higher-inclination orbits," Peter de Selding, SpaceNews, Twitter, 29 April 2016.
"SES CEO Sabbagh: Future O3b sats will be in higher-inclination orbits to reach the polar regions."
Polar LEO-HTS - a game-changer?, Alan Crisp, Northern Sky Research, 11 January 2016.
"There are currently no non-GEO-HTS solutions at the poles, due to limitations of O3b's coverage"
Satellite 2014: What's Next in HTS, iDirect blog, 12 March 2014.
"Ashok Rao, O3B Networks vice president of product development, shared his company's bullish growth plans, which included an elliptical orbit fleet"

Our paper:

3.7m O3b dishes in Port Moresby.

O3b 3.7m dishes in Port Moresby

Revisiting elliptical satellite orbits to enhance the O3b constellation
Lloyd Wood, Yuxuan Lou, Opeoluwa Olusola.
Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, vol. 67, no. 3, pp. 110-118, March 2014.
We propose an addition of known elliptical orbits to the new equatorial O3b satellite constellation, extending O3b to cover high latitudes and the Earth's poles. We simulate the O3b constellation and compare this to recent measurement of the first real Internet traffic across the newly deployed O3b network.
Discusses satellite constellations. Uses SaVi and ns satellite network plot scripts. See also:

SES to take control of O3b Networks, Space Daily, 6 May 2016 - "three satellites currently flying as in-orbit back-up" so nine of twelve satellites are active.
Two O3b Satellites Taken Out of Service as a Precaution, Peter de Selding, Space News, 11 September 2014 - six active satellites matches Ellipso's Concordia.
MEO and HEO satellite orbits, AMSAT UK, 12 July 2014.
O3b Launches Four More Satellites To Bring Internet To 'Other 3 Billion', Slashdot, 11 July 2014.
Satellite communications intellectual property auction, IPinSpace blog, 10 May 2015.
Bankruptcy Forces Sale of Valuable Satellite Based Global Communications System Technology, IPFrontLine, 8 July 2011.

Revisiting elliptical satellite orbits to enhance the O3b constellation (829K)

JBIS 2014.67.110 | issue summary | arXiv: 1407.2521.

Other papers on O3b connectivity:

Lloyd Wood (