Mobile satellite communications company Inmarsat has unveiled major innovations designed to deliver the most powerful, portable and flexible connectivity services on a global scale.
The innovations, which were launched during the GITEX Technology Week in Dubai, include IsatHub service which brings assured, globally available 3G smart device connectivity to a new generation of users.
Inmarsat also unveiled the latest addition to its market leading satellite phone portfolio, the robust and reliable IsatPhone 2 that is specifically for government customers and the civilian version of its L-TAC, beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) service, providing military-grade connectivity to the civilian emergency services.
Additionally, Inmarsat presented the latest developments in the world’s first global, mobile high-speed broadband service, Global Xpress (GX). The first of three GX satellites entered commercial service in July 2014 and is now being deployed by customers.
Commercially launched on a global basis in September, IsatHub represents one of the most significant developments in Inmarsat’s portfolio as it brings its award-winning L-band network to a far wider audience for the first time.
IsatHub delivers global 3G connectivity for smart devices and features the highest data rate of any equivalent mobile satellite service with standard IP data of up to 240/384kbps.
The revolutionary service means that anyone can surf the internet, access their apps, text or talk using their own iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android smart device even when they’re thousands of kilometers from a terrestrial fixed or mobile network.
L-TAC: Emergency Services Communications
Inmarsat will shortly launch its new L-TAC service for civilian users that will significantly extend the range and capabilities of VHF radios used by the emergency services and enable full interoperability between civilian and defense forces radios, something that is crucial during major incidents or civil emergencies.
Introduced last year, L-TAC service is already in use by defense forces around the world. It provides a low cost Tactical UHF Satellite (TACSAT) capability, which greatly extends the range of UHF tactical radios by linking them via Inmarsat’s global satellite constellation into a seamless, secure network.
Utilizing the unique Spectra Slingshot adapter kit, created exclusively for use over the Inmarsat satellite network, defense departments and now civil government customers can rapidly convert existing radios to access the L-TAC network through the simple addition of a small converter and antenna.
Previously, the benefits of military grade communications technology, such as L-TAC, have not been available to civilian customers.
To support the crucial work of the emergency services and other civilian government departments, Inmarsat has introduced VHF Simplex versions of the Slingshot adapter kit. This extends the L-TAC service into a new frequency band, one that is utilized by an extensive number of end-user radios worldwide.
The first GX satellite covering Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia entered commercial service in July 2014. It began serving customers on a commercial basis immediately and is also being trailed by potential end-users and Inmarsat partners in anticipation of the start of fully global services scheduled for mid-2015.
Inmarsat is planning to launch regional GX services in the region by the end of the year. These services will allow early adopters to start to benefit from the revolutionary GX capability before the full services are available summer 2015.
“We have been receiving highly positive feedback from across the government and maritime markets, which have been among the earliest adopters and the first to run live trials of our Global Xpress service,” said Michele Franci, Inmarsat’s Chief Technology Officer.
GX will deliver high-speed broadband globally to mobile, portable and fixed devices on land, sea and in the air, for users and communities in all markets and environmental conditions.
IsatPhone 2 is an advanced handheld satellite phone which offers dependable, high quality voice calls and text messaging outside of cellular and fixed network coverage.
With a rugged handset design and an industry-leading eight hours of talk time (160 hours on standby), IsatPhone 2 joins Inmarsat’s top-selling IsatPhone Pro as the latest addition to the company’s handheld satellite phone portfolio offering customers a choice of phone depending on their requirements and budget.
Extensive testing has shown that IsatPhone 2 has the longest battery life on the market for a handheld satellite phone, ensuring that it is ready and available when needed. The new phone operates over the ultra-reliable, globally available Inmarsat-4 constellation, ensuring that a user can stay in contact across the world.
Among its wide range of features, IsatPhone 2 provides an assistance button, which in an emergency sends GPS location data, together with a user-defined text message, to a pre-programmed number or email address.
Additionally, the new IsatPhone 2 includes a tracking capability which can be used to show a user’s location on an interactive map. Both the emergency and tracking features offer peace of mind to those whose jobs take them into volatile locations, providing the reassurance that the alarm can be raised at any time and that their location may be easily identified.
The BGAN HDR service delivers a significantly enhanced streaming rate, providing a step-change in video quality for journalists reporting from remote regions or areas where the existing communications infrastructure is unreliable or damaged.
Building on the heritage of the BGAN platform, launched in 2005, and BGAN X-Stream, launched in 2009, BGAN HDR supports a portfolio of four new streaming rates, including asymmetric services to ensure broadcasters only pay for the throughput they need.
Its full channel option will provide broadcasters with an expected streaming rate of around 650kbps. Cobham SATCOM’s EXPLORER 710, the first terminal to access the HDR service, has a built-in bonding capability, enabling connection speeds above 1Mbps to be achieved – previously only possible on a VSAT uplink.
BGAN HDR can also be used as a dependable back-up solution to cellular bonding, offering a simple to use but powerful support service to journalists should cellular services fail or become busy.
BGAN Link offers a broadband data service for users who require high monthly volumes of ‘always-on’ Standard IP data over sustained periods of operation. It enables organisations with teams working in remote areas to set up a remote office quickly and gain instant access to standard workplace tools, such as email, web browsing and VPN.
BGAN Link’s connection is maintained even during extreme environmental conditions, while its L-band radio technology gives it a high degree of pointing tolerance even during strong winds or seismic activity. It also supports all major VPN products and encryption standards and meets military and government requirements.