With the addition of Alphasat to the I4 constellation, Inmarsat’s product portfolio will benefit from the increased satellite resiliency in space. This will be developed to efficiently manage usage of existing, as well as Alphasat upgraded user terminals, allowing the upgraded terminals to operate at enhanced performance through higher bandwidth availability, taking advantage of the extended frequency band.
As part of the Alphasat programme, Inmarsat and ESA are working together to develop a new range of enhanced satellite communication terminals, services and applications for mobile users, extending the Inmarsat BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network).
New services for mobile users
One of the main focus areas is the provision of safety services. Maritime and aeronautical communities will benefit from improved safety of life applications and a new range of safety services. Inmarsat heritage includes the provision of safety services to maritime and aeronautical platforms, and increasingly the Inmarsat systems are used by first-responder markets for disaster relief. The operator is carrying out several activities in the frame of the ARTES programme which support the development and validation of service extensions to the BGAN system, that in turn provide support for the critical applications required to satisfy these markets.
Examples of these new services are the Voice Distress service which immediately connects a sea faring vessel in distress to a maritime rescue centre, or the SwiftBroadband Oceanic Safety Service that provides voice and broadband data safety applications to the aircraft cockpit.
Alphasat also offers the possibility to create new user terminals. New low-gain terminals will benefit from the Alphasat satellite extended L-band coverage and its improved power and sensitivity performance. These Mobile Terminals type will support both voice and data services (typically up to 100 kbps, depending on antenna size) and cover land, maritime and aeronautical segments. The mobile terminals will be designed to support robust operation at low elevation, and therefore be suitable as future safety service delivery platforms. Target user groups will include government organisations, as well as commercial maritime, aero and land vehicular applications.
More capacity for the information age
The introduction of Alphasat also provides a great opportunity to increase the maximum bit rate for BGAN high gain terminals through the use of higher order modulation schemes together with bonding of multiple transceivers operating over multiple BGAN channels. The prime user group for this high bit rate streaming service is likely to be media/broadcasting organisations, as well as defence customers.
A range of new services have also been developed under the Alphasat programme. The introduction of simultaneous voice communications over Inmarsat’s maritime service is an example. The service will improve crew’s life conditions at sea, by separating personal and professional communications.