03 July 2019: Inmarsat is to introduce two new satellite payloads dedicated to the Arctic region in a partnership with Space Norway and its subsidiary Space Norway HEOSAT.
The new Global Xpress (GX) payloads will support the rapidly growing demand for seamless, reliable, high-speed mobile broadband services in the Arctic and throughout the world.
In commercial markets, the GX Arctic payloads are designed to specifically address the needs of merchant fleets, fishing vessels, commercial airlines and the energy market, where high-speed mobile broadband connectivity is driving both major operational and efficiency improvements and supporting the introduction of new business models.
For the Government sector, the new GX payloads will provide continuous, assured communications to tactical and strategic government users operating in the Arctic region, including customers in the USA, Canada, Scandinavia and other Arctic regions. Importantly, these payloads will also provide KA Gov steerable capacity through service beams and high-capacity steerable beams, cost effectively complementing military satellite resources for optimal redundancy, protection, scalability and global portability.
Inmarsat’s new Arctic capabilities will further increase network flexibility and efficiency through multi-beam, high-throughput capacity that can be fully dialled up and down depending on customer demand in the region. Building on Inmarsat’s current capabilities up to and beyond 75º North, the new payloads will improve network performance in very high latitudes by flying directly overhead, providing GX antennas with much higher elevation angles to optimise throughput.
Today’s announcement comes only a month after Inmarsat’s decision to invest in three new GX satellites (GX7, 8 & 9) to be built by Airbus Defence & Space, which will deliver a transformational change in GX’s global capabilities, capacity and agility for the benefit of current and future Inmarsat customers, partners and investors.
The Arctic region satellites will be operated by Space Norway’s Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission (ABSM) team. Inmarsat is the only commercial partner to be included as part of Space Norway’s ABSM satellites, which will be built by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems.
The new GX Arctic payloads (GX10A & 10B) will be placed into Highly Elliptical Orbits (HEO), ensuring continuous coverage above 65º North, and will have the ability to direct capacity in real-time to the areas of highest demand.
They represent the world’s first and only mobile broadband payload dedicated to the Arctic region and will integrate seamlessly into the current and planned GX network. The GX payloads, scheduled to launch in 2022, will be fully compatible with current and future GX terminals, ensuring that current Global Xpress customers can benefit from the further extension of the network.
This enhancement of GX is further validation of the success of the network, designed by Inmarsat in 2010 and now seen as a gold standard for high-speed broadband connections wherever customers need them in the world. Inmarsat’s diverse network strategy ensures the highest hot-spot capacity, optimal coverage, excellent ‘look-angles’ between the terminal and the satellite, zero blockage, and deep resilience for GX customers.
Inmarsat’s GX network began global services in 2015 and it remains the world’s first and only seamless global mobile broadband network. Inmarsat has since grown GX revenues strongly and established leading positions in the emerging global Maritime, Aviation and Government mobile satellite broadband markets, with GX revenues increasing by 85% to $250.9m in 2018. GX is the most successful network for global mobility.
Rupert Pearce, Chief Executive Officer, Inmarsat said: “I would like to thank Space Norway for providing this opportunity to deliver dedicated GX capacity in the Arctic region. Norway has been a strong, strategic partner for Inmarsat over many years. It is the home to one of our most advanced research and development centres, located at the Norwegian Maritime Competence Center (NMCC) based in Ålesund, which is part of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology campus. Today’s announcement with Space Norway is a further example of the strength of this relationship.
“Connectivity in the Arctic region is growing in importance as aircraft fly more northerly routes, merchant ships transit new high-value waterways and the region becomes of increasing geo-political importance for diverse governments. Inmarsat’s GX network will always seek to be ahead of where our customers are going and what they demand from us. This enhancement is fully backward compatible and will strengthen coverage over the Arctic to provide the connectivity needed by our customers now and into the future. As part of the existing Inmarsat GX network, customers will now have seamless, high-quality mobile broadband services as they travel in and out of the Arctic region.
“I am delighted to say that Inmarsat will be the only provider of the mobile broadband connectivity our customers need in the Arctic region.”
Jostein Rønnerberg, CEO of Space Norway said: “In close collaboration with Inmarsat and government partners we are about to get in place a strategically important capacity for all those currently operating in the Arctic without access to broadband capabilities. Our focus is on the users – fishermen, researchers, rescue personnel, coast guard, military and others. We are proud to join forces with Inmarsat and we are confident that this collaboration will be welcomed by those operating in the High North.”
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