“We are delighted to have reached this milestone,” said Samer Halawi, regional director, Inmarsat Ltd. “Sales of mini-M satellite phones have grown rapidly since the launch of service in 1997, and today it is the most popular solution in our Instant Communication portfolio, enabling people to communicate via voice, fax or e-mail anywhere in the world.” In the Middle East, demand for voice communications via satellite grew stronger in the last two years. “Much of the traffic generated from our Inmarsat satellite that covers the Indian ocean region in the last two years were from voice and low speed data which shows that importance that mini-M is gaining in our part of the world,” Halawi said.
Captain David Younes, managing director of USMSTS, a satellite communication solutions provider for the maritime industry and a Lebanon-based Inmarsat partner said:” Judging from our sales record, the workhorse of the family remains the standard mini-M type world phone, which has been the most invaluable tool for numerous users.” Some of the mini-M users according to Captain Younes include the UN-ESCWA in Beirut, ship masters, managers and crew in Lebanon and Cyprus, African based medical staff and rough diamond buyers.
Mini-M offers a complete range of models from portable, to maritime, to vehicular and even for corporate jets with tracking antenna. This year Inmarsat has also launched a payphone version. Captain Younes explains: ”Another practical feature of the Inmarsat mini-M system is the various types of pre-paid airtime SIM cards operating on this system, not to mention the most popular crew cards, enabling seafarers to keep in touch with their loved ones.” He continues: ”The Inmarsat mini-M system has in fact established its voice, fax and data communications reliability up to latitudes of 70 degrees and under adverse weather conditions in land and sea, during solar flares activity and during thunderstorms. All other RF based communications have proven ineffective under these conditions.”
The portable mini-M terminal is lightweight, fully portable and provides 98 per cent land mass coverage. The maritime mini-M offers coverage in all the major shipping routes. In all variants, mini-M has proved itself a valuable communications link for anyone operating beyond the reach of traditional terrestrial networks or when those networks don’t offer the quality or level of service required to make voice or data calls. It also offers value for money when compared with many GSM roaming rates – if that service is available – and can be less than half the cost of hotel rates.
Increasingly important has been the payphone solution which offers seafarers, governments, mining, energy and construction sites, a cost effective voice service for ‘communities’ operating outside the reach of traditional communication services or where that service is not reliable enough for email, fax and voice calls. In India, for example, a number of villages, where electricity and telecoms infrastructure access are at premium, mini-Ms, often with a payphone, are successfully used to address the gap in the provision of rural public telephony
Companies like Roc Oil of Australia use mini-M for their oil exploration teams for e-mail, fax and voice operating in diverse areas as Australia, Senegal, the UK and Mongolia. Graham Ryrie, IT and graphics manager at Roc Oil, Sydney explains: “We found the mini-M to be extremely useful as it is a self-contained communications system. Easily portable and running from batteries, it provided a useful additional safety measure and comms out in the field.”
Inmarsat mini-M phones can be used in over 150 countries worldwide and, in addition, versions are in use for the aeronautical and maritime markets.
“Inmarsat has seen many rivals enter and leave the mobile satellite services market,” said Halawi. “But despite all the hype and the tall claims, most users recognise that if they want reliability, coverage and availability, nothing tops Inmarsat.”
Inmarsat has been registering new connections for mini-M at the rate of nearly 2,000 a month – with each terminal potentially being used by a range of subscribers from one individual, to 50 or more on a ship.
“What also makes Inmarsat different is that our voice offering is just one element of our total communications portfolio for enterprises globally,” said Halawi. “At one end of the spectrum there’s our voice and low-speed data mini-M phone, at the other end we’re currently the only company to offer an integrated high speed global ISDN service at 64kbit/s, a Mobile Packet Data service and voice, via our Global Area Network (GAN).”
Since the company’s inception over 22 years ago as a provider of maritime safety services, Inmarsat has helped save the lives of hundreds of people at sea. That same network, which posted an availability figure for the year 2001 of over 99.99%, also enables people to communicate from around the earth and for businesses to benefit from mobile connectivity and communications wherever they happen to operate in the world.
“We really pioneered universal mobile satellite communications and we’ve been evolving the system over the past two decades, constantly achieving new levels of innovation to match the needs of our customers. What our enterprise customers now need is even greater bandwidth and our next Inmarsat generation of satellites, which will be operational in 2004, will drive us from 64kbit/s, through up to 144kbit/s and then up to 432kbit/s,” said Halawi. “With such a flexible portfolio of cost-effective mobile services and solutions, Inmarsat aims to continue to provide their customers with what they need – reliable and cost-effective mobile satellite communications.”
Sunday, August 18- 2002 @ 14:17 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.