Artist’s rendition of SES Network’s O3b mPower constellation. Credit: SES.

Medium Earth orbit (MEO)
Medium Earth orbit comprises a large range of orbits anywhere between LEO and GEO. It is similar to LEO in that it also does not need to take specific paths around Earth, and it is used by a variety of satellites with lots of different applications.

Flying 8,000km above the Earth’s surface, the O3b MEO constellation delivers low-latency broadband to any area within 50° north or south of the equator. The fibre-equivalent connectivity enables the delivery of carrier-grade, cloud-ready services, including MEF Carrier Ethernet certified services.
Geostationary orbit
Geostationary orbit (GEO)
Satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO) circle the Earth above the equator from west to east.
A GEO satellite follows the Earth’s rotation – taking 23 hours 56 minutes and 4 seconds – by travelling at exactly the same rate as the Earth. This makes satellites in GEO appear to be “stationary” over a fixed position. In order to perfectly match the Earth’s rotation, the speed of GEO satellites needs to be about 3 km per second and at a height of 35,786 km. This is very far from Earth’s surface compared to other satellites.
This orbit is used by satellites that need to stay constantly above one particular place over the Earth, such as telecommunications satellites. This way, an antenna on Earth can be fixed to always stay pointed towards that satellite without moving. It can also be used by weather monitoring satellites, because they can continually observe specific areas to see how weather trends emerge there.
GEO satellites cover a large range of Earth, and a combination even just three equally spaced GEO satellites can provide near full coverage of the Earth. This is because when a satellite is this far from Earth, it can cover large sections at once; you can compare it to how you would be able to read more of a map laid in front of you if you were a metre from it than if you were a centimetre from it. So to see all of Earth at once from GEO, you need only three satellites, but at a lower altitude, you would need more.

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