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Final GX satellite set for launch this month

Inmarsat has announced that it now expects its delayed I-5 F3 satellite, the final satellite in the Global Xpress network, to be launched at the end of this month – paving the way for the global introduction of commercial service by the end of the year.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}“The return to flight of the Proton launch vehicle after a three-month suspension is welcome news,” said Inmarsat CEO, Rupert Pearce.

“A successful launch of I-5 F3 in late August will enable us to introduce global GX commercial services by the end of this year, providing a major catalyst for a step-change in revenue and EBITDA growth in 2016.”

“We remain confident that GX will deliver incremental run-rate revenues of at least $500 million per annum within five years from the launch of global services.”

The GX programme has suffered a series of unfortunate delays outside of Inmarsat’s control, with a litany of failures for the Proton launch vehicle used to carry the spacecraft into orbit pushing back the roll-out schedule on a number of occasions.

Most recently, a Proton failure in May during the launch preceding Inmarsat’s slot had caused the GX launch to be postponed as an investigation was mounted into the cause of Proton’s problems.

The investigation by the Russian State Commission has now been completed, and the parallel enquiry by the Failure Review Oversight Board set up by launch provider ILS, in line with Russian and US government export control regulations, has now also reported – paving the way for Inmarsat to finally get its last GX satellite into orbit.

The announcement of this return to the launch programme came as Inmarsat reported its half year results for the period up to the end of June 2015, showing a 3.5 per cent drop in maritime revenues of $5.3 million to $147.3 million compared with last year.

This drop was mainly attributed to decline in the company’s older products, with revenue from the Fleet service in particular down by 55 per cent in the quarter.

Newer services have been on the up for Inmarsat however, with FleetBroadband revenue up 17 per cent and the company’s VSAT business delivering 11 per cent revenue growth for the quarter. These two services now account for more than 75 per cent of total maritime revenue, the company said.

FleetBroadband represented approximately 60 per cent of total maritime revenue in the quarter, compared to just under 50 per cent in the same period last year. There were 41,689 FB users at the end of the quarter, spending just under $700 per month on average.

VSAT revenue growth, which the company says was almost all from its XpressLink service, included almost 40 new installations per month in the quarter, taking the total installed base to almost 2,200 ships at the end of the period.{/mprestriction}

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