Advanced Television

Inmarsat reverses LEO strategy

February 10, 2023

By Chris Forrester

For the past few years, London-based Inmarsat has planned to build its own low Earth orbiting mega-constellation, called ‘Orchestra’. It has now emerged that the scheme has probably been cancelled.

Larry Paul, Inmarsat VP/corporate business development, speaking at the Smallsat Symposium in California, told delegates that Inmarsat had taken a hard look [at the concept] but admitted it did not make sense.

“We don’t have the balance sheet to support that kind of investment. So, we are going to partner with a LEO operator, or maybe more than one,” said Paul.

Inmarsat’s Orchestra project was announced back in 2021, but by 2022 its enthusiasm had cooled somewhat.

However, an email from Inmarsat did little to clarify matters, noting: “Inmarsat remains committed to Orchestra, its multi-dimensional network encompassing GEO, HEO, LEO, 4G and 5G mesh. Work continues to assess the best path forward on the LEO component of Orchestra and the company will announce further details when appropriate. Both partnering for or building the LEO dimension of that network have always been and continue to be options under consideration. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure the best possible solution for our partners and customers.”

Viasat of California is in the process of acquiring Inmarsat although the deal is currently subject to various regulatory examinations. The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority is expecting to issue its comments on the deal during March.

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