O3b mPOWER – A First of its Kind NGSO Capability

A discussion with Michael Geist, Vice President, Product Management – Government, SES Space & Defense

What makes O3b mPOWER capability unique?
The launch of SES’s second-generation satellite network, O3b mPOWER, marks the company’s next step toward delivering the highest throughput, most efficient, and most flexible enterprise-grade satellite connectivity services to customers yet.  O3b mPOWER combines many key attributes typically found with geostationary satellite solutions like geographic reach per on-orbit asset, flexible ground infrastructure, and the accommodation of customer-defined User Terminals (UTs) and waveforms, along with “uncontended” capacity, which means that you get what you pay for… it’s not being statistically multiplexed and simultaneously sold to others in an orbit similar in overall latency performance to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) solutions.

The Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) is unique for its orbital resilience while also remaining in the optimal realm for real-time or cloud-originating user applications.  O3b mPOWER is particularly unique in its ability to serve enterprise-class customers… that is,  many users connected from a single point like a ship, airplane, office, or base, with high throughput, low latency throughput needs, and consistent or guaranteed performance.

Perhaps even more significant for potential users is that the O3b mPOWER constellation features an “open architecture” that allows customers to employ it for a wide variety of operational scenarios beyond basic Internet connectivity, including Command & Control uses, Protected Communications, and emerging or evolving operational use cases like LEO Relay Services, Multi-Orbit Routing, Intelligence Surveillance & Reconnaissance, Gateway-Free UT-to-UT connectivity, and other unique mission-critical applications.

On the point of security, O3b mPOWER is a constellation of High Throughput, Software Enabled Satellites placed into a non-geostationary orbit (NGSO), protected with security enhancements outlined in Committee on National Security Systems Policy 12 (CNSSP-12).  O3b mPOWER can support user-derived protected waveforms along with existing and emerging holistic network cybersecurity capabilities.   Further, since the O3b mPOWER satellites are constantly moving relative to a geographic point on Earth, and small channelized user beams are equally adapting to ever-changing user location and demand, unintentional interference is unlikely and adversarial instigation of intentional interference becomes extremely challenging.

Our O3b mPOWER High Throughput, Software Enabled Satellites allow SES to place many Gbps of low latency capacity into a single ~250km diameter geographic area if required or to spread that capacity across numerous beams in a large region and adapt it to the changing needs of our customers.  Satellites in the O3b mPOWER constellation have an estimated lifespan in excess of ten years, and the constellation itself only requires six satellites for a global equatorial to 50o latitude coverage making our offering enduring and affordable for users.  Overall, O3b mPOWER provides superior capability to reliably address high throughput, low latency user connectivity requirements while being less susceptible to exceeding Equivalent Power Flux Density (EPFD) regulations.

How are O3b mPOWER services delivered? What does the customer need to know?
SES, or via its U.S. proxy subsidiary SES Space & Defense for U.S. government customers, offers O3b mPOWER services in two primary operational constructs, “Commercial Managed Services” and “Sovereign Services,” sometimes referred to as “Transparent Mode.”

Commercial Managed Services are full stack integrated, operated, monitored, and managed end-to-end network services using SES defined and developed User Terminals. These enable users to experience low latency enterprise-grade connectivity with the highest possible uncontended throughput and maximum overall system efficiency.  This vertically integrated hardware and software stack enables SES to adapt capacity to ever-changing user demand moment-by-moment, creating operational savings that SES passes along to its customers.

Sovereign Services provides a technological advantage for customers who desire to define their own User Terminals, employ waveforms of their choosing, operate services from any location desired, add security solutions to meet operational requirements, or incorporate a host of other important mission-specific needs into their connectivity offering.  Sovereign Services provide users maximum flexibility while delivering low latency enterprise-grade connectivity with the highest possible uncontended throughput.  SES, offers two categories of Sovereign Services to global markets:

  • Sovereign Capacity Services
  • Sovereign Managed Services


Sovereign Capacity Services are low latency, high throughput satellite capacity offerings.  Customers define and employ their own ground infrastructure and User Terminals, and then interface with the SES backend network architecture to realize connectivity outcomes that meet their operational goals.  As a primer for deployment of customer owned Sovereign Gateway infrastructure, we also offer the possibility for customers to utilize a part of SES’s Commercial Gateways, referred to as Hybrid Sovereign Gateways, to securely host their Sovereign Capacity Services.

Sovereign Managed Services are network services exclusively tailored to address our customers’ mission needs. They are integrated and operated by SES, specifically SES Space & Defense for U.S. government customers.  Sovereign Managed Service users benefit from the scalability of in-place common ground infrastructure that can independently support many customers, minimizing time to operation, training, and sustainment while providing significant infrastructure and operational savings to users.

What’s in it for equipment vendors? How can they take part?
Within the realm of Sovereign Services, SES is working with reliable, high-quality equipment vendor-partners to ensure maximum operational flexibility for our customers. Each partner brings a differentiated value proposition to the O3b mPOWER solution, whether it’s a Program of Record waveform like the Enhanced Digital IF Modem (EDIM) or the Protected Tactical Waveform (PTW), by providing interoperability with existing infrastructure, or through delivering new capabilities for overall service enhancements.  Some vendors have capability certifications such as DO-160 or MIL-STD 810 for unique operational environments, while others offer operational enhancements like Communication Signal Interference Removal (CSIR) or state-of-the-art simultaneous multi-beam, or even multi-frequency / multi-beam connectivity.  Sovereign Services maximize a user’s choices to enable the desired outcome.

To be a part of the O3b mPOWER vendor partner ecosystem, solution providers engage SES to receive O3b mPOWER specific Government Technology Certification (GTC) Interface Control Documents (ICDs) through which they will enhance their solutions for use with the O3b mPOWER constellation. Once completed, vendor partners receive O3b mPOWER Government Technology Certification.  SES offers O3b mPOWER as a completely open-architecture solution enabling faster adoption of NGSO services – either as a stand-alone capability or a resilient and, if needed, simultaneous augmentation to other connectivity orbit options.

Share the Post: