Aircraft Cabin Management

Inmarsat unveils the comms  network of the future 

Inmarsat has unveiled plans for Orchestra, which it is describing as a “first-of-its-kind network” that will seamlessly integrate existing geosynchronous satellites (GEO) with low earth orbit satellites (LEO) and terrestrial 5G into one harmonious, high-performance solution.

The company says Orchestra is designed to “meet evolving connectivity needs in the mobility market with a service unmatched by any competitor offering, planned or in existence”.

Commenting on the innovation, Inmarsat CEO Rajeev Suri said: “An orchestra brings different instruments together, each supporting the other and playing its role in the masterpiece. We’re building Orchestra on the same concept.

“By combining the distinct qualities of GEO, LEO and 5G into a single network, we will deliver a service that is far greater than the sum of its parts. Our customers will benefit from dramatically expanded high throughput services around the world. This is the future of connectivity and Inmarsat is perfectly positioned to bring it to the world with its proven technology expertise, right base of customers and partners and financial strength.”

Orchestra is said to be unique because it draws together the benefits of multiple technologies to create one cohesive solution. LEO, GEO and terrestrial networks have never been combined at scale before to create a unified connectivity service for mobility customers.

The result is a “dynamic mesh network” that will deliver high-performance connectivity everywhere. Bringing together the lowest average latency and fastest average speeds with unique resilience, Orchestra will eliminate the industry-wide challenge of congested network ‘hot spots’, maintains Inmarsat.

High capacity at hot spots

Inmarsat’s existing GEO satellites – both GX and L-band – will continue to provide global coverage, high performance, security and resilience. Terrestrial 5G adds ultra-high capacity in busy ‘hot spots’, such as ports, airports, and sea canals. A small constellation of LEO satellites will layer additional high capacity over further high-demand areas such as oceanic flight corridors. As a result, the network will offer the highest capacity for mobility users worldwide. The network will also benefit from “dynamic mesh” technology, which allows individual customer terminals to direct traffic to and from other terminals.

“Orchestra ensures Inmarsat is well positioned to deliver long-term, profitable growth by delivering new services to existing customers, targeting near-adjacent market segments and maintaining a strong competitive position,” noted Suri. “We have a record of adopting the right technology at the right time. We plan to focus initially on delivering the Orchestra terrestrial network, while preparing for a future LEO constellation in the range of 150-175 satellites. This is a highly cost-effective approach that leverages Inmarsat’s leading GEO satellite networks as part of Orchestra’s unique multi-layer architecture.”

The new approach means that Inmarsat can easily boost capacity in high-density areas such as ports and airports, ensuring customer needs continue to be met well into the future with capacity scaled directly to match their requirements. The initial five-year (2021-2026) total investment for Orchestra is expected to be in the order of $100m.

Last March, Inmarsat announced that it would be bringing its maritime, aviation and enterprise connectivity solutions to customers based in Saudi Arabia through new partner agreements.

In addition, the company secured new spectrum licences to deliver both its narrow-band and high-capacity broadband Global Xpress services in Saudi Arabia, enabling Saudi-based businesses to deploy these services for the first time.

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