Inmarsat Gets European Space Agency Backing For Mobile Satellite Services

ESA funding for Inmarsat will go on study looking at next generation of mobile satellite technologies

British satellite company Inmarsat has managed to pick up €4.2 million worth of funding from the European Space Agency (ESA) to launch a study into the next generation of space-enabled communications services.

Inmarsat this week signed a ‘Public Private Partnership’ with the ESA, making Inmarsat the prime contractor in the nine-month feasibility study.

“We would like to extend our thanks to ESA, and the UK Space Agency, for their support and the vision to see how the UK and all of Europe can benefit from the expansion of the commercial space industry,” said Inmarsat CTO Michele Franci.

Standardised interfaces

The study will look to expand the capabilities of future mobile satellite services, and create an architecture with standardised interfaces that will allow application developers an easy route through to planting their software on satellites.

The funding is part of Inmarsat’s Communication Evolution Initiative, which looks to stimulate the market for creation of new products and services for mobile satellite communications.

The study will focus on both space and ground technologies that could maximise the effectiveness and coverage of satellite communications. The technologies include modular components that can attach to a larger array of devices, and smaller terminals that are cheaper to produce.

Mr Michele Franci, Chief Technology Officer, Inmarsat; Ms. Magali Vaissiere, ESA’s Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications and (standing) Mr Chris Castelli, Director for Programmes at the UK Space Agency.

“While the initial study is a relatively small scale project, it represents an ambitious goal; to extend the benefits of satellite communications to a broader customer base and to significantly increase the range of services and applications available; from connected transport systems to the monitoring of national and international energy infrastructures, to name just a few,” said Franci.

In May, Inmarsat launched its third ‘Global Xpress’ (GX) satellite, bringing its next generation global mobile broadband network one step closer.

The satellite, Inmarsat-5 F-3 (I-5 F-3) was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Inmarsat launched its first GX satellite in December 2013, covering Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The Global Xpress project aims to deliver broadband speeds up to 100 times faster than the company’s fourth generation (I-4) constellation and offer new opportunities for end-users in government, maritime, aviation, enterprise and the third sector.

“This project represents a major commitment by Inmarsat and its successful completion and the start of global commercial services later this year, will bring to life the prospect of the Internet of Everywhere. For the first time, this will deliver seamless, superfast broadband communications across the globe – on land, sea and in the air – from one single operator,” said Franci.

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