Throughout our 40 year history, we have driven innovation in satellite communications by anticipating customer demand for global, mobile connectivity and developing the world’s best portfolio of satellite networks to deliver operational, safety and mission-critical applications for organisations and governments across the world.
To provide even more bandwidth to meet ever-increasing data needs – and to ensure that our customers’ investment is protected for decades to come – Inmarsat is committed to a fully-funded technology roadmap. A fleet of new Global Xpress satellites will be launched over the next four years to deliver even greater capacity, capabilities and agility.
Operating in the L-band, Ka-band and S-band, our satellites enable unparalleled breadth and diversity in the services we provide.
Our award-winning Inmarsat-4 (I-4) series of satellites established the world’s first global 3G mobile network. They deliver our L-band broadband services – BGAN, FleetBroadband and SwiftBroadband; IoT machine-to-machine (M2M); and voice services. Since 2018 they have also been powering our legacy maritime and aviation safety services, migrated from the three I-3 satellites still in service.
The first three Inmarsat-4 (I-4) satellites were launched into geostationary orbit from 2005-8. They were built by an international team of space technologists from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the USA and Canada, with European satellite manufacturer EADS Astrium as the lead contractor.
Each satellite can generate up to 19 wide beams and more than 200 narrow spot beams. In 2010, the I-4 satellite design and capability won the Royal Academy of Engineering’s prestigious MacRobert Award for innovation.
In July 2013 we launched Alphasat to supplement the I-4 fleet, providing coverage over Europe, the Middle East and Africa and bringing new capabilities including 50 per cent more accessible L-band spectrum and nearly 20 per cent more mobile communication channels.
The Inmarsat-4 fleet is expected to support our L-band services well into the 2020s.
Inmarsat’s fifth generation, Ka-band satellites power Global Xpress (GX) – the first and only high-speed mobile broadband network to seamlessly span the world. The award-winning, market-leading service is transforming whole industries by offering highly reliable, fully scalable connectivity solutions.
The Inmarsat-5 (I-5) satellites were built by US manufacturer Boeing, based on its powerful 702HP platform. The first three I-5 satellites were launched between December 2013 and August 2015, with global commercial service starting in December 2015. A fourth GX satellite was launched in May 2017 to provide additional capacity.
The fifth satellite in the fleet, GX5 – a Very High Throughput Satellite (V-HTS) constructed by Thales Alenia Space – will lift off at the end of 2019 to boost capacity even further, particularly meeting growing demand for aviation Wi-Fi and commercial maritime services across the EMEA region.
Inmarsat’s S-band satellite (S EAN) powers the European Aviation Network (EAN), a world-leading high-speed broadband solution built to meet the needs of Europe’s busy airspace.
EAN combines satellite coverage with Deutsche Telekom’s complementary 4G LTE ground network complementary air to ground network to deliver cost effective, scalable capacity precisely where it’s needed across 30 European nations – transforming the passenger experience, driving operational efficiency and opening new revenue streams for airlines.
Built by France’s Thales Alenia Space, the S-band satellite was launched by Arianespace as part of a dual payload ‘condosat’ in June 2017, becoming fully operational in September 2017.
Inmarsat’s sixth-generation (I-6) fleet will be the first to feature Ka-band payloads hosted on L-band satellites.
The I-6 satellites confirm our commitment to L-band services, and will support a new generation of capabilities for the 5G era as well as global safety services.
The advanced Ka-band payload will add further depth to Global Xpress (GX) coverage, delivering greater capacity in regions with the highest demand.
Two I-6 satellites are being constructed by Airbus Defence and Space. The first is scheduled for launch with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) using its H-IIA launch vehicle in 2020.
The next generation of Global Xpress satellites, due to be launched from 2023, represents a step change in the evolution of GX’s capabilities, capacity and agility.
Up until now the satellite industry has endured a long and expensive wait from ordering a satellite to its manufacture, launch and entry into commercial service. Manufactured by Airbus Defence & Space, the GX7, 8 & 9 satellites will be delivered in under two years, with no costly requirement for new ground locations, enabling a faster response to growth in demand.
These software-defined satellites will be truly disruptive. Each delivering approximately twice the total capacity of the entire current GX network, they will employ dynamic beamforming to simultaneously create thousands of independent beams of different sizes, bandwidth and power that can be reconfigured and repositioned across the globe in real time.
Existing GX customers will be able to benefit from next generation enhancements using current terminals, enjoying a significant boost in performance, as well as future-proofing their investment. Backward-compatibility will also ensure further redundancy and resilience for what is already the only fully redundant network in existence.
To optimise coverage and availability of GX services to the rapidly growing number of customers in the Arctic region, further expansion of the Global Xpress network will deliver seamless, reliable high-speed mobile broadband above 65° North.
Two multi-beam, high-throughput payloads – GX10A & 10B – will be placed in Highly Elliptical Orbits (HEO), ensuring continuous coverage and featuring the ability to direct capacity in real-time to the areas of highest demand.
The world’s first and only mobile broadband payloads dedicated to the Arctic region, GX10A & 10B will integrate seamlessly into the existing and planned GX network and will be fully compatible with current and future GX terminals.
The GX Arctic expansion is being delivered in a partnership with Space Norway and its subsidiary Space Norway HEOSAT as part of the Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission. The satellites carrying the GX payloads will be built by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems and are scheduled for launch in 2022.