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In an exclusive interview with Mohammad Marashi, SVP, product and strategy, networks, SES, he explains how they aim to fulfill connectivity needs seamlessly with a flexible selection of services and what O3b mPOWER’s impact is to these services.

Currently marking 37 years in the business, SES is a pioneer in space. How will SES continue to play its role in satcoms and continue to deliver amazing experiences on Earth?

After 37 years of being in business, SES has grown from being a European player focused on satellite TV distribution to a leading content connectivity solutions provider that is delivering innovative services to our data customers.

h innovative technology adoption. Some examples include when we were among the first in Europe to broadcast high-quality HD (High Definition) content to satellite TV homes and first in the world to invest in and deliver satellite-based low-latency broadband services through our O3b MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) constellation.

For both its Video and Networks businesses, SES always offers the latest and most advanced technologies to meet the ever-changing and challenging demands of its partners and customers. Now, after almost four decades of service, SES continues to remain committed to placing our customers' needs above all and innovating to make sure we offer the best services. 

The most-awaited O3b mPOWER satellites will start launching this year. Please share with us the company's MEO journey that leads to O3b mPOWER.

SES’s MEO journey started back in 2009. We were one of the early investors in O3b Networks, whose mission was to connect the other three billion. When the first batch of satellites launched in 2013, we could not have expected what awaited us. O3b's MEO network reduces latency, increases throughput by an order of magnitude and improves both voice and video quality. We went on to fully acquire O3b Networks in 2016.

For the last 10 years, we have seen how our MEO constellation has positively shaped business and communities. For example, in the Central African Republic, service from O3b has enabled Orange to rollout 3G and 4G cellular services in 10 cities. Orange was also able to provide better-quality broadband services to businesses, boosting secured mobile data and payment services across the country.

After having seen how O3b has transformed our customers’ businesses and communities’ lives, it is no wonder that we started thinking how we can deliver even better performance and flexibility in connectivity services, and that is when we envisioned our second-generation of MEO satellites, O3b mPOWER. Built by Boeing, the O3b mPOWER satellites will start launching this year. Just like O3b, it will operate in the medium Earth orbit at about 8,000km away from the Earth’s surface. O3b mPOWER will be providing unrivalled high throughput, unmatched flexibility, constant low latency and uncontended capacity, enabling customers to support a multitude of segments, including Government, Fixed Data, Energy, Cloud and Mobility. O3b mPOWER enables us to enhance our services and tailor them to fit our customers’ needs in the most efficient way.   

What can you tell us about the O3b mPOWER technological ecosystem? Who are your key partners, and how will this system impact market segments in a data-dependent world?

The uniqueness of O3b mPOWER lies in the ecosystem of partners. We do not only have satellite partners who will be helping us build and launch the satellites; we also have a very robust network of ground equipment and software partners.

Our ground equipment partners, such as Gilat, Intellian, ALL.Space and Comtech, have been developing equipment that will allow us to simplify and optimize our networks. For example, our customers’ terminals and gateways have been designed and built to make sure that they are easy to install and are of low-maintenance.

Additionally, through our software partners, we are building an automation and service orchestration platform where network services can be effectively and easily managed by our customers and channel partners.

What does O3b mPOWER mean for the MENA region?

With the launch of O3b mPOWER satellites, we will be able to offer our customers all around the world unrivalled high throughput, unmatched flexibility, constant low-latency and uncontended capacity in 2023. More specifically for the MENA region, we recently signed a tripartite agreement between e& (Etisalat), Microsoft and SES where e& will be hosting the co-located SES O3b mPOWER and Microsoft ground station to facilitate connectivity to the cloud so that customers can optimize their global business operations and accelerate their digitalization plans while unlocking more value for their businesses.

One of the unique features of O3b mPOWER is the ability to enable our customers to land beams wherever they choose. This means that our MENA customers, either in telco or in government, who are keen to have their own O3b mPOWER gateways can choose its location depending on their operations and connectivity usage — something that is highly valued by our customers in this region. 

What other revolutionary plans do you have in store for the upcoming years?

For the upcoming years, we will continue to develop our offerings by tailoring and enhancing our products and services jointly with our customers to meet their growing and changing needs. In addition to the six satellites, we will be launching initially, we will be additionally launching five more satellites to deliver enhanced throughput and performance.

We have also ordered another software-defined geostationary satellite, SES-26, for the region. The totally digital satellite will replace NSS-12 at 57 degrees East to extend content and connectivity services flexibly across Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia and will support government communications solutions across the region. 

Through our multi-orbit satellite services, we can enable our telco customers to meet the rapid growth in mobile data usage in their markets and support them in complying with their digital inclusion requirements. At the same time, our different tiers of services could cater to companies and organizations that need secure and reliable networks for staying connected among offices. At SES, we understand that our customers’ demands can vary, and we aim to fulfill their connectivity needs seamlessly with a flexible selection of services. 

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