Inmarsat-4 satellite launched; new era in global mobile communications

MUMBAI: Inmarsat has announced the successful launch of its first Inmarsat-4 (I-4) satellite on board an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.


Weighing about six tons, the I-4 will deliver a 3G-compatible broadband data service to mobile users. The satellite is 60 times more powerful, and has 20 times more capacity than its predecessors, the Inmarsat-3 satellites.

"The world has just got a little smaller," Andrew Sukawaty, CEO and Chairman of Inmarsat was quoted in a company release as saying.

"The I-4 satellite is one of the largest and most powerful commercial satellites ever launched, and will deliver unprecedented data speeds for a mobile satellite communications service."



The satellite will now undergo a complex series of post-launch tests and manoeuvres before being fully deployed in geostationary orbit, 36,000 km above the Indian Ocean at 64 degrees east. The satellite footprint will cover Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, most of Asia Pacific, and Western Australia.

Inmarsat plans to launch a second I-4 satellite in the third quarter of 2005, which will be located over the Atlantic Ocean at 53 degrees west and provide service for the Americas. The two I-4 satellites will then cover 85 per cent of the world's land mass.

When the two satellites are fully operational, currently expected in the fourth quarter of 2005, Inmarsat intends to launch its new Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service.

BGAN is an IP and circuit-switched service that will offer voice telephony and a sophisticated range of high-bandwidth services, including Internet access, videoconferencing, LAN and other services, at speeds of up to 432kbit/s.

Inmarsat's I-4 satellites are built by EADS Astrium and are part of an eight-year, US$1.5 billion development of Inmarsat's next-generation satellite network.

The launch on the Atlas V was carried out by International Launch Services.

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