Viasat changing Inmarsat’s plan for LEOs?
July 26, 2023
By Chris Forrester
Inmarsat, prior to its take-over by US-based Viasat, had planned to launch a fleet of low Earth orbiting satellites (Orchestra). It now seems that Viasat is re-thinking the scheme which would save millions in terms of investment.
Viasat has written to the FCC withdrawing its applications for V-band satellite spectrum. The letter from Viasat to the FCC says: “Viasat’s wholly owned subsidiary, Inmarsat Inc., is today withdrawing its application for authority to access the US market with a planned NGSO system using portions of the V band.”
Inmarsat itself, has not helped clear any confusion given that it Tweeted a statement on July 26th saying “Communication lies at the heart of everything we do and being in touch no matter where you are is an expectation. Orchestra will combine multiple orbits & 5G into a single seamless solution so you don’t have to worry about getting connected – you just are.”
Inmarsat already has a test satellite in orbit which is testing new concepts and system configurations for Orchestra’s proposed LEO constellation, “which will seamlessly integrate with geosynchronous orbit (GEO) and highly elliptical orbit (HEO) satellites, and a terrestrial 5G network, to deliver a uniquely powerful global communications solution for mobility and government customers,” stated Inmarsat as long ago as December 2021.
Inmarsat claimed: “Orchestra the first global network of its kind; creating a global, multi-dimensional, dynamic mesh network that will redefine connectivity at scale with the highest capacity for mobility worldwide and at hot spots across the world. It will deliver the fastest average speeds and the lowest average latency of any network, planned or in existence.”
Rajeev Suri, CEO of Inmarsat and now a Viasat board member, speaking in 2021 said: “Our vision for Orchestra is a network that uses the right technology for the right purpose. We are not beholden to a single approach and believe that the best way to meet customer needs is a multidimensional approach that includes GEO, LEO and terrestrial 5G in a dynamic mesh that brings capacity to where it is needed in the most efficient way possible. [The] announcement is yet another testament to the fact that Inmarsat is a company with commercial momentum and technology leadership.”