O3b space constellation to launch

An innovative new space network goes into orbit on Monday. O3b will put a series of satellites 8,000km above the Earth to provide communications to those parts of the world that have poor fibre optic infrastructure.
With backing from blue chip companies such as Google, O3b believes its novel system can change the broadband experience for millions of people.
The network’s first four satellites will launch from French Guiana.
They will ride a Soyuz rocket from the Sinnamary spaceport, with lift-off scheduled for 15:53 local time (18:53 GMT).
It will take just over two hours for the Soyuz’s Fregat upper-stage to raise the satellites to their operational altitude. O3b will handle primarily voice and data traffic for mobile phone operators and internet service providers. It will pick up this traffic as the spacecraft pass overhead and then relay it to ground stations, or teleports, for onward connection to global networks.
Although other satellites routinely do this, O3b is taking a markedly different approach.
By flying in a Medium-Earth Orbit of 8,000km, its satellites will be a quarter of the distance from Earth than is the case with traditional geostationary (GEO) telecommunications spacecraft, which sit some 36,000km above the planet.
This should reduce substantially the delay, or latency, of the signal as the voice or data traffic is routed via space.