Satellite service provider Inmarsat has contracted with Airbus Defence and Space to deliver three new satellites to upgrade capacity and enhance the Global Xpress (GX) and Fleet Xpress services. The partnership will provide a step-change in GX’s capabilities, capacity and agility for the benefit of existing and future Inmarsat customers, partners and investors.
The new geostationary satellites will provide the platform for a transformational upgrade in Fleet Xpress, whose combination of Ka-band plus continuous L-band back-up connectivity is already installed on close to 7,000 ships worldwide helping enable digitalisation at sea.
Inmarsat’s GX network was first designed in 2010 and began global services in 2015. This created the world’s first and only seamless global mobile broadband network. Inmarsat has since grown GX revenues strongly and established leading positions in the emerging global Maritime through Fleet Xpress, Aviation and Government mobile satellite broadband markets, with GX revenues increasing by 85% to $250.9m in 2018.
As part of this growth, Fleet Xpress was brought to market in March 2016, with a quartet of fifth generation GX satellites now providing its maritime broadband component via Ka-band, seamlessly backed up by continuous L-band connectivity using Inmarsat’s I-4 satellites. Last year, market analyst Euroconsult indicated that Fleet Xpress is the fastest growing VSAT provider to the maritime industry.
The announcement marks the beginning of the next phase of GX’s evolution, enhancing global mobile broadband coverage with a transformation in network capacity and service capability. This transformation, together with the unparalleled agility of the next-generation satellites, will ensure GX remains at the forefront of innovation for the benefit of customers and partners.
This contract with Airbus is for the manufacture of three next-generation GX satellites (GX7, 8 & 9), with the first scheduled to launch in H1 2023. The level of capital expenditure under this programme is in line with that provided for in our long term planning. As such, there is no change to our overall capex guidance on the back of today’s announcement.
This network development encompasses a major enhancement to the GX ground network, which will deliver full integration of each generation of GX satellites to form a highly-secure, inter-operable, ultra-high performance network. Future GX satellites offering new capabilities can easily be added to this dynamic framework whenever and wherever demand dictates. The network will also be able to benefit from future technology innovation.
The new GX technology will be compatible with existing terminals, allowing Inmarsat customers to benefit seamlessly from this and future service enhancements. Through regular upgrades by Inmarsat to the GX network capabilities and features, customers will be able to take advantage of future technology innovation.
Rupert Pearce, Chief Executive Officer, Inmarsat said, “On its launch in 2010, Global Xpress revolutionised satellite telecommunications and, even in 2019, GX remains the world’s only truly seamless global mobile broadband network. As such, I am delighted today to announce the next steps in GX’s development, in partnership with Airbus, which will ensure that our customers continue to benefit from GX’s ground-breaking technology and capabilities for many years to come.
Worldwide demand for mobile broadband connectivity has grown exponentially in recent years and we expect this trend to continue. This next phase in the evolution of our GX network provides a dynamic and powerful answer to the challenges created by this growth in demand, building on the strong foundations we have already established”.