The size of a London double-decker bus and weighing about six tons, the Inmarsat-4 (I-4) satellite will deliver a 3G-compatible broadband data service to mobile users. The satellite is 60 times more powerful, and has 20 times more capacity than its predecessors, the Inmarsat-3 satellites.
“The world has just got a little smaller,” said Andrew Sukawaty, CEO and Chairman, Inmarsat. “We have created communications history today. The I-4 satellite is one of the largest and most powerful commercial satellites ever launched, and will deliver unprecedented data speeds for a mobile satellite communications service.”
The satellite will now undergo a complex series of post-launch tests and manoeuvres before being fully deployed in geostationary orbit, 36,000km above the Indian Ocean at 64ºE. The satellite footprint will cover Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, most of Asia Pacific, and Western Australia.
Inmarsat currently intends to launch a second I-4 satellite in the third quarter of 2005, which will be located over the Atlantic Ocean at 53ºW and provide service for the Americas. The two I-4 satellites will then cover 85 per cent of the world’s land mass.
When the two satellites are fully operational, currently expected in the fourth quarter of 2005, Inmarsat intends to launch its new Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service.
BGAN is an IP and circuit-switched service that will offer voice telephony and a sophisticated range of high-bandwidth services, including internet access, videoconferencing, LAN and other services, at speeds of up to 432kbit/s.
Inmarsat’s I-4 satellites are built by EADS Astrium and are part of an eight-year, $1.5 billion development of Inmarsat’s next-generation satellite network. The first launch was carried out by International Launch Services using an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral.
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