Satellite communications ‘moving into the mainstream’

19 March 2014: Satellite broadband is being transformed from a back-up to the communication solution of choice.

Satellite 2014

This was the conclusion of an expert panel at Satellite 2014 debating “Satellite Broadband: Moving from the Margins into the Mainstream”.

Leo Mondale, Managing Director of Growth, Management and Support at Inmarsat, joined executives from O3b, ViaSat, Hughes and Telespazio at the annual satellite industry conference in Washington DC, USA, to consider the opportunities available today.

Growing demand

All five companies are developing services to meet the growing demand for high-speed connectivity all over the planet. For Inmarsat, this means the launch of Global Xpress (GX), the world’s first globally available Ka-band mobile broadband satellite network.

The constellation of three GX satellites is on schedule to be fully deployed by the end of this year, with the first – Inmarsat-5 F1 – on course to achieve commercial service introduction (CSI) by mid-2014.

The panel discussed the definition of broadband and what end-users expect from a satellite service.

Good product

“It would depend heavily on the reliability and certainty of what consumers are going to have – and also where they can have it,” said Leo.

The goal is to ensure customers receive a good end-product. “We’re trying to give people a service so they don’t feel like they’re getting less than they would get normally,” he added.

With the launch of powerful satellites such as the I-5s, the industry is becoming better equipped to provide broadband services on a global scale. 

Advanced technology

The panel agreed that while some observers do not see satellite broadband being comparable to terrestrial alternatives in urban areas, the advancements in technology allow it to be much more than just a solution for remote locations.

“Mainstream is moving,” said Leo. “It’s up to us to remain relevant in that mainstream.

“I think that some of the things that people take as given today are subject to change. Even though some developments create great opportunity, they can go in interesting directions. It’s a great challenge and I’m delighted to be a part of it.”