Inmarsat upgrades L-band for IoT

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London-based satellite operator Inmarsat says it is making a significant upgrade to its ELERA L-band network to specifically cope with a surge in demand from companies and governments wanting Internet of Things (IoT) services.

Inmarsat says the fresh investment will triple the speed of the ELERA network. The operator adds that it will also introduce smaller terminals for use for customers to receive and decode the satellite’s L-band signals.

Inmarsat is launching two new satellites to enhance the ELERA network. The I-6 satellites, the first of which is scheduled to launch at the end of 2021, are the largest and most sophisticated commercial communications satellites ever built. The L-band capacity on each I-6 satellite will be substantially greater than Inmarsat’s fourth-generation spacecraft and, among other enhancements, they will deliver 50 per cent more capacity per beam; meaning that much more data can be carried over the same geographical area, in addition to unlimited beam routing flexibility.

“A lot of this demand is for connectivity in remote locations – shipping, mining, aviation, agriculture, remote government services and disaster relief,” states Inmarsat. “In practice, this includes things like helping large scale farms monitor crops on a second-by-second basis, coordinate production lines at mining sites, provide welfare and safety systems for ships at sea, and provide communications during the early hours at disaster relief sites. This network will also support the use of autonomous vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e. drones).”

“ELERA is perfectly suited to the needs of the connected IoT world,” said Rajeev Suri, CEO, Inmarsat. “Global reach, extraordinary resilience, faster speeds, smaller and lower cost terminals are all part of ensuring that we remain ahead of others in meeting the needs of our customers.”

“ELERA is a further sign of a company with true momentum and one that is delivering new innovations and strong performance,” continued Suri. “I expect that Inmarsat will grow strongly in 2021 compared to the previous year, and that growth will span most of our business units. Our progress was evident in the first half, where we saw strong growth in revenue and EBITDA and robust cash flow. We have sharpened our strategy to focus on driving growth, accelerate decision making, launch new innovations, and are creating a more commercially focused, customer-centric culture.”

The innovations that the company is investing in to bring to market in the near future include spectrum management technology to deliver L-band speeds up to 1.7Mbps, the smallest footprint, low cost L-band terminal and two new L-band satellites, which are the largest and most sophisticated commercial communication satellites ever created.

The news comes just 14 days after Inmarsat announced Orchestra, the world’s first network to combine GEO, LEO and 5G into one harmonious global communications solution, ELERA underlines Inmarsat’s strategic focus on the global mobility segment of satellite communications.


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