Inmarsat addresses expanding military broadband needs

Global Xpress would be 10 times the speed of broadband global-area network services

Mobile satellite services provider Inmarsat plans to construct a Ka-band broadband system that will be substantially faster than its Broadband Global Area Network service in response to the needs of government and other customers, reports Michael A. Taverna at Aviation Week.

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Known as Global Xpress, the system will be anchored on the new Inmarsat-5 spacecraft that Boeing is building for Inmarsat. Each of the spacecraft will have 89 fixed spot beams and offer some in-orbit processing. This new mobile satellite service, which is scheduled to be available by 2014, will have a throughput exceeding 100 gigabits/sec and will transmit at speeds as fast as 50 megabits/sec.

Global Xpress would be 10 times the speed of BGAN, which is supported by existing Inmarsat-4 spacecraft, the company said.

The service will offer a major advantage in price per bit and antenna size when compared with new-generation, low-Earth-orbit systems; Ku-band systems; and very small aperture terminals. What’s more, it will allow room for future growth that the heavily saturated Ku band cannot handle.

High-throughput satellite technology at those speeds is a new offering, and the first round of spacecraft using it are slated for broadband fixed satellite service applications. Eutelsat plans to launch KA-SAT in the fourth quarter of this year, and ViaSat will launch ViaSat-1 in 2011.

Mobile satellite service offers communications capabilities in areas where wired and wireless networks might not extend or provide adequate coverage. Therefore, it is particularly desirable for military, maritime and aeronautical needs. The U.S. government's demand for mobile satellite service is expected to triple in the next five years to meet military needs such as unmanned aerial vehicle downloads.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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