Redmond, Washington’s Kymeta Corporation, a satellite materials manufacturing firm, was formed barely a year ago. Today, the Bill Gates-backed startup is already set to dominate the airborne satellite communications industry. The company recently announced a development partnership with the Dutch/French satellite developer O3b Networks fusing Kymeta’s low-cost, lightweight antennae technology to O3b’s satellites. Kymeta’s trademark “metamaterials surface antenna technology” (MSA-T) is essentially a laptop-like, flat receiver capable of holding onto radiofrequency beams moving at high speeds. This means that satellites equipped with this technology can establish and maintain low-cost, high-speed broadband connections with trains, cars, planes, boats, etc. Kymeta and O3b are slated to launch prototypes of a unique, optimized satellite system combining the two companies’ technologies by the end of 2014.
CEO and Chairman Vern Fotheringham envisions Kymeta becoming a global leader in airborne satellite technology. Indeed, the global reach of the Kymeta-O3b partnership will be significant. O3b has just wrapped up the installation of ground-based, satellite dish constellations in locations as far flung as Portugal, Australia and the Cook Islands. Their fiber-speed broadband connections can now serve customers anywhere 45 degrees north or south of the equator. Kymeta, in addition to developing their terminals for O3b, is developing a portable, laptop sized satellite hotspot targeted for remotely located customers such as field-based news reporters, disaster recovery and aid organizations, oil and gas exploration professionals and consumers in the developing world.