Inmarsat to set up global 50Mbps satellite broadband network

Inmarsat is to spend $1.2bn to build a new global satellite-based network to deliver data speeds up to 50Mbps on demand to customers from 2014.

Inmarsat is to spend $1.2bn to build a new global satellite-based network to deliver data speeds up to 50Mbps on demand to customers from 2014.

The system includes three new Boeing 702HP Ka-band geostationary satellites, as well as new ground infrastructure.

The deal comes less than a week after Google-backed satellite operator O3b announced it would provide gigabit per second capacities to customers operating between latitude 42 degrees north and south.

O3b is aiming at customers that require high-speed, low-latency backhaul connections, such as terrestrial fixed and mobile network operators, among others.

An Inmarsat spokesman said the new Global Xpress service was aimed at the $1.4bn markets for VSAT (very small aperture terminal) services in the maritime, energy, aerospace and government sectors. Consumers were not a target market initially, but he said he would not rule out agri-businesses.

Terminals the size of an iPad would receive data rates of up to 10Mbps, while larger terminals for ships would receive 50Mbps, he said.

Inmarsat said it was too early to give the cost per megabyte for the dial-up service. Customers would connect through a distributor such as Inmarsat subsidiary Stratos, he said.

Likewise, it was too soon to definitive about terminal prices, but he said terminals for the BGAN service (which uses L-band frequencies to deliver connections around 512kbps) ranged between $1500 and $5000. "I expect [the new terminals] will be about the same," said the spokesman.

Inmarsat expects the service to be earning $500m a year by 2019.

In a separate deal, Boeing will distribute Inmarsat's Ka-band and L-band services, and will supply more than 10% of Inmarsat's target Ka-band revenues in the first five years after launch.


Computer Weekly says:

The idea, usually pushed by fixed network operators, that it is too expensive to deliver high-speed broadband to remote areas, is rapidly dying. Click here to read more.

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