Global Xpress will serve as the foundation of an integrated global network that can be shaped to fit any airline route system and built upon to meet future demand
05 April 2016: Inmarsat, the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, has outlined its long-term aviation broadband roadmap to ensure that rising demand for fast, reliable and global passenger in-flight connectivity is met for the next five years and beyond.
The launch of Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) Aviation solution this year creates the world’s first high-speed passenger in-flight connectivity solution with seamless, end-to-end global coverage, delivered through a single operator. Engineered to meet the needs of complex and evolving airline route systems, initial airline customers including Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and Jazeera Airways.
The GX network, which entered commercial service in December 2015 and currently includes three powerful Ka-band satellites, will provide the international bandwidth capacity needed to meet existing and near-term demand from airlines. As part of the aviation broadband roadmap, it also provides a global coverage underlay that will be built upon to meet future demand.
Inmarsat has already committed to a fourth GX satellite, which is completing construction and testing by Boeing and will provide additional network capacity. It has also awarded Airbus Defence and Space a contract to build the first two satellites for its sixth-generation fleet, the first of which is scheduled for delivery by 2020. Uniquely for Inmarsat, the new fleet will feature a dual-payload, with each satellite supporting both Ka-band and L-band services. Based on current services and demand, the Ka-band co-payload will augment the capacity of the GX network over busy air routes and regions, while the L-band capacity supports a new generation of aviation safety services.
Another vital component in the roadmap is Inmarsat’s European Aviation Network (EAN), which will be the first aviation passenger connectivity solution across European airspace to integrate an advanced satellite network and LTE-based ground network; the latter will be operated by Deutsche Telekom. Aircraft will switch automatically between satellite and terrestrial connectivity using an onboard network communicator for optimal service delivery. The first commercial EAN trials are expected in mid-2017.
Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “Inmarsat’s focus on global mobility is unique in the industry and our aviation broadband roadmap will ensure we continue to grow ahead of demand, with the ability to efficiently move capacity where it’s needed, when it’s needed. As a result, our airline customers will benefit from partnering with a highly-focused connectivity provider that is continuously investing to meet the aviation industry’s long-term needs for superior performance and economics.
“This is extremely important, as airlines operate complex and constantly evolving route networks, each with their own unique requirements, and they need to look beyond a short-term answer to in-flight broadband. Inmarsat’s commitment to building on its GX payloads, in addition to the European Aviation Network, underlines the fact that we have the infrastructure, focus and investment power to deliver the ultimate aviation connectivity – now and in the future.”
Airlines will connect to GX Aviation using exclusive new JetWave terminals being produced by Inmarsat partner Honeywell Aerospace. Over 300 passenger aircraft have already committed to installing the system, with more to come. Certification for JetWave is currently underway for 26 different aircraft models across commercial, business aviation and government end markets, with approvals received for the Boeing 757 and Bombardier 5000 and 6000 aircraft in recent months.
Final ground and flight testing is now underway and initial results have successfully validated GX Aviation’s ability to deliver high-speed broadband connectivity to support video streaming and live radio, online conference video calls, multiple file downloads and more over land and water.
Inmarsat is also collaborating with Honeywell Aerospace and Kymeta, a company that develops innovative flat-panel antennas for satellite communications, to produce a new, higher-speed Ka-band wireless antenna. The aviation antenna, which is exclusive to Inmarsat, will have unique capabilities that will bring another step change in faster connectivity and higher quality broadband service to aircraft. In addition, its smaller and lighter flat-panel design will reduce weight and drag on the aircraft, in turn reducing fuel and maintenance costs.
“Our end-to-end solution, including the satellite and ground network, hardware and infrastructure, have been specifically engineered with mobility in mind. And as a single network operator, we can commit to a reliable global service with a uniform high quality of service,” added Mondale.
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Inmarsat plc is the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services. Since 1979, Inmarsat has been providing reliable voice and high-speed data communications to governments, enterprises and other organizations, with a range of services that can be used on land, at sea or in the air. Inmarsat employs around 1,600 staff in more than 60 locations around the world, with a presence in the major ports and centres of commerce on every continent. Inmarsat is listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:ISAT.L).
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