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Inmarsat introduces Arctic broadband capabilities

Ronald Spithout, president, Inmarsat Maritime Ronald Spithout, president, Inmarsat Maritime

Inmarsat is introducing two new satellite payloads to provide broadband in the Arctic region for the first time. The Global Xpress payloads are being developed in partnership with Space Norway, and its subsidiary Space Norway HEOSAT.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"} The new payloads support the rapidly growing demand among both commercial and government users for seamless, reliable, high-speed mobile broadband services in the Arctic and throughout the world. The new GX Arctic payloads will improve network performance in very high latitudes by flying directly overhead, providing GX antennas with much higher elevation angles to optimise throughput.

The new Arctic capabilities will further increase network flexibility and efficiency through multi-beam, high-throughput capacity that can be fully dialled up and down depending on customer demand in the region.

The Arctic region satellites will be operated by Space Norway’s Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission (ABSM) team.  Inmarsat is the only commercial partner to be included as part of Space Norway’s ABSM satellites, which will be built by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems.

The new GX Arctic payloads (GX10A & 10B) will be placed into Highly Elliptical Orbits (HEO), ensuring continuous coverage above 65º North and will have the ability to direct capacity in real-time to the areas of highest demand.

They represent the world’s first and only mobile broadband payload dedicated to the Arctic region and will integrate seamlessly into the current and planned Fleet Xpress service network.  The additional payloads, scheduled to launch in 2022, will be fully compatible with current and future Fleet Xpress terminals, ensuring that current maritime, offshore and fishing customers can benefit from the further extension of the network.

According to Inmarsat, high-speed connectivity will be vital to make best use of Arctic offshore exploration and production opportunities as oil prices recover, while melting sea ice is also attracting merchant ships to the shorter east-west transit times available via remote northerly routes.

Climate change is also shifting major fish stocks north, with overfishing in traditional grounds driving vessels to spend more time in the Arctic Circle. The trend demands reliable Arctic connectivity for operational reasons but also to support the vessel monitoring that ensures fishing quotas are upheld.  

“I would like to thank Space Norway for providing this opportunity to deliver dedicated GX capacity in the Arctic region.  Norway has been a strong, strategic partner for Inmarsat over many years.  It is the home to one of our most advanced research and development centres, located at the Norwegian Maritime Competence Center (NMCC) based in Ålesund, which is part of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology campus.  Today’s announcement with Space Norway is a further example of the strength of this relationship,” said Ronald Spithout, president, Inmarsat Maritime.

“Connectivity in the Arctic region for the maritime industry is growing in importance as, merchant, fishing and cruise ships transit new high-value waterways. With close to 7.000 vessels already using Fleet Xpress, we will always seek to be ahead of where our customers are going and what they demand from us. This enhancement is fully backward compatible with our existing Fleet Xpress service and will strengthen coverage over the Arctic to provide the connectivity needed by our customers now and into the future.”

Jostein Rønnerberg, CEO of Space Norway, commented: “In close collaboration with Inmarsat and government partners we are about to get in place a strategically important capacity for all those currently operating in the Arctic without access to broadband capabilities. Our focus is on the users – fishermen, researchers, rescue personnel, coast guard, military and others.  We are proud to join forces with Inmarsat and we are confident that this collaboration will be welcomed by those operating in the High North”.{/mprestriction}

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    “As a Certified Application Provider, we will be constantly developing new features to generate increasingly powerful tools for the maritime market,” said i4sea CEO Bruno Balbi. “Working with a company like Inmarsat is really a great deal for i4sea and this is the first smart system that integrates in a single platform, all the essential tools to support decision making regarding vessel’s maneuvers and port terminal’s operations,” he said.

    Six integrated tools are offered and includes services such as ocean and weather hyperlocal forecasts, dynamic draft prediction, terminal efficiency analytics and analysis and prediction of siltation or erosion dynamics of the seabed.

    “We are delighted to be working with such an innovative start-up such as i4Sea, a company we worked with as part of the Portuguese Bluetech accelerator programme earlier this year,” said Marco Cristoforo Camporeale, head of digital Solutions, Inmarsat Maritime. “

    “This tie-up will allow ship operators and managers to both route plan and improve terminal efficiency and this is all achieved through the i4sea application on Fleet Data and via a secure platform that is fully scalable, fleet-wide and now commercially available on both Fleet Xpress and FleetBroadband,” said Mr Camporeale.

    Currently, i4sea's clients include Brazilian companies such as TECON Salvador (Wilson, Sons), Açu Petróleo, CSN Coal and Ore Terminal, Cotegipe Port, Bahia’s Maritime Authority, Itajaí Port, Enseada, among others. There are also international contracts with the ports of Leixões and Sines, in Portugal.

     

  • Fleet Xpress chosen for Nekton ocean research project

    Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress has been chosen to provide the connectivity backbone enabling images captured by the deep ocean research institute, Nekton from the floor of the Indian Ocean to be transmitted to audiences worldwide.

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    The maritime high-speed broadband service provided connectivity to relay broadcast images from Nekton’s submersible off the Seychelles last year. Along with Associated Press, Sky News and Sonardyne, it won the 2019 IBC Innovation Award for Content Distribution and the 2020 Royal Television Society News Technology Award.

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    “The ocean is a key part of each Maldivian,” said president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of Maldives. “71 per cent rely on the ocean for their primary source of income. We have committed to a 5-year initiative to advance ocean protection and sustainably develop the blue economy. This expedition will help us establish the long-term sustainability of our economic growth, livelihoods and jobs through establishing marine protected areas to build ocean resilience”

    Deep ocean locations are often also the farthest from shoreside support. For high-tech research vessels monitoring and managing subsea activities today, reliable connectivity is becoming an operational as well as a safety need.

    “For all practical purposes, until now it has not been possible for research vessels in remote seas to transmit large quantities of data back to base in real time, let alone stream images suitable for high-definition TV broadcast,” said Peter Broadhurst, senior vice president, Inmarsat. “Nekton’s decision to work with Inmarsat has changed that.”

    Pressure Drop’s video-streaming capability has already been proven through her role in the ‘Five Deeps Expedition’, supporting the world’s only manned submersible able to descend to full ocean depth (11,000m). For its new mission, data from submersibles will feed into the 2022 Indian Ocean Summit, where Seychelles and Maldivian governments, and ‘First Descent’ partners seek to create a sustainable management plan for 2,000,000km2 of ocean.

    Part of the Pressure Drop project also sees Inmarsat installing Fleet Data, the maritime industry's first secure IoT platform, which extracts data from sensors and uploads it to a secure central cloud-based database for easy access with no additional airtime cost. Its use will enable the first-ever transmissions of water chemistry and geophysics datasets.

    Fleet Data will also allow scientific research to be shared onto an open source platform, with processed datasets made available so that registered marine scientists around the world can participate in a virtual Hackathon to interrogate data and publish findings within two weeks. All datasets will be blockchain-coded to ensure security, transparency, and decentralisation.

    “One of the biggest issues is that it can take months or even years to publish data analysis, by which time data may have less relevance and application. By using Fleet Data we can publish data in an instant via an Inmarsat API: this is ground-breaking for marine science and could accelerate the analysis and publication of ocean data,” said Oliver Steed, chief executive, and Nekton.

    Inmarsat’s yachting partner YachtProjects designed, installed and commissioned Pressure Drop’s management and communications systems, including ECDIS, CCTV and open port capability.

    Nekton’s research, sampling and survey technologies fully integrate with shipboard systems, with the YachtProjects’ Seawall package controlling the shipboard network and shaping bandwidth and streaming, with the terminal hardware provided by Intellian Technologies.

     

     

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