Maritime comms boost with Inmarsat 7-satellite investment

Maritime communications and connectivity is said to be getting a major boost over the next three years after Inmarsat confirmed its plans to expand the Global Xpress (GX) satellite constellation.

London-based Inmarsat confirmed these plans on the fifth anniversary of its GX network entering service worldwide, according to Riviera.

GX provides Ka-band satellite communications to maritime markets across the world’s oceans and seas delivering a high-speed broadband network owned and managed by a single operator, increasing bandwidth to shipping, offshore, fishing and marine markets. These services are also available to aviation, government and humanitarian users worldwide.

Inmarsat GX network currently includes five geostationary satellites, with four built by Boeing. Its GX5 satellite, built by ThalesAleniaSpace, started commercial service on 10 December 2020 over Europe and the Middle East.

“Global Xpress has had a major impact across multiple industries over the past five years, but the service has only just started to demonstrate its capabilities,” says Inmarsat chief executive Rupert Pearce.

“When our global network of partners and customers adopt GX, they are doing so as a long-term investment and we believe it is our responsibility to ensure this commitment is protected.

“To ensure we deliver additional capacity ahead of the demand curve, we are in the process of delivering against the most ambitious technology roadmap, the largest, fully funded investment strategy in our history.”

The company will manufacture, launch and commission five more satellites and GX payloads on two third-party satellites.

“This will see not just a transformational increase in GX capacity but will also guarantee our partners and customers have access to a new generation of GX capabilities and ever-increasing broadband speeds,” continues Pearce, “which will include the world’s first dedicated broadband services for the Arctic region.”

For shipping, GX is part of Fleet Xpress services, combined with L-band FleetBroadband as a back-up service.

Both GX and L-band services will be enhanced with delivery of two Inmarsat-6 constellation satellites, GX6A and GX6B over the next two years. The first of these Airbus Defence & Space-built satellites is due to be launched by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries later in 2021. The second is planned to be launched by SpaceX in 2022.

I-6 satellites will be the most powerful and flexible mobile communication satellites ever developed by Inmarsat, with GX and L-band payloads.

Read the full article online.

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