Inmarsat technology gets war news out

The use - and awareness - of technology from UK-based satellite company Inmarsat has taken off, after being used by journalists reporting from Iraq, says CEO Michael Storey.

The use - and awareness - of technology from UK-based satellite company Inmarsat has taken off, after being used by journalists reporting from Iraq, says CEO Michael Storey.

Storey says there are few places on earth that cannot be reached by Inmarsat's service.

"The media on the ground are making extensive use of the network, and there are almost as many stories about the journalists and how they're reporting on the war as there are on the war itself."

Another growth area for Inmarsat, despite the downturn in traveller numbers, is in providing broadband capability to aircraft. Ironically this may be one of its more lucrative areas while simultaneously being unpopular with end users.

With the introduction of the Inmarsat-4 fleet of spacecraft, due for launch in 2005, Inmarsat's coverage will increase ten-fold.

"We will launch three and plan for one to fail. Even with only two, however, we should still be able to offer our broadband global area network [BGAN] service running at 432Kbit/s which is far more than 2.5G services can offer."

Traffic costs should also be halved when the new service comes on line.

The majority of Inmarsat's traffic is derived from the maritime sector, providing 57% of its revenue last year. However, Storey says the future lies with corporate data communication and it is upgrading the company's satellite infrastructure to cope.

Inmarsat's current broadband offering, GAN, runs at 64Kbit/s as a mobile ISDN service, charged by the minute. Inmarsat also offers the world's first global mobile packet data service (MPDS) which is charged on a traffic basis - however both use the same end user equipment, allowing users to switch between the two as they need.

Inmarsat was originally set up by a consortium of national governments seeking to work together to build a communication satellite network. Since 1999, Inmarsat has been a limited liability company with a number of former government telcos, including Telecom and Telstra, as shareholders.

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