As one of the most exciting and dangerous competitions in the world, the Volvo Ocean Race has become a must-see for anyone who has a passion for sailing. Leg One of the 2011-12 race has commenced with six of the best sailing crews on the globe leaving Alicante, Spain with their eye aimed directly at Cape Town, South Africa. The nine month long race, made up of an equal number of legs, is figured to garner a viewership of 2 billion people, making this a high-stakes event for the crew, its sponsors, and the companies who provide the equipment that enable these boats to reach the limits of their potential. One of the most vital aspects of a teams success is taking advantage of leading communication technology. This has been an issue for sailors since the beginning, but now, with the help of Inmarsat's FleetBroadband Marine Satellite Communications, these difficulties are becoming a thing of the past.
You could say that sailing is somewhat of a beautiful contradiction these days. Although its primary function: "propulsion of a boat using sails" is still the most integral part of the sport, the introduction of new methods, material and ideas to help increase speed, safety and efficiency of the crew has kept the sport at the cutting edge of technology. Not only are boats turning into F1 race-cars with regard to the advanced make-up and build, but also with analytics and communication. Top yachts can track their progress and make adjustments real-time using on-board systems that analyze every aspect.
The Volvo Ocean Race in particular demands the best from the crews competing and requires a boat that is outfitted with the most advanced technology to date, not the least of which is satellite communications. Luckily for the crews, FleetBroadband Marine Satellite Communications is giving them all the tools necessary to complete the race faster and safer than ever. Launched in 2007, FleetBroadband provides telephone and internet simultaneously through a highly compact antennae anywhere in the world. It is the first marine satellite services system to simultaneously provide voice and high speed data service to any body of water around the globe.
Delivered via the most advanced commercial communications satellites ever launched, Inmarsat's FleetBroadband allows you to send and receive email with large file attachments, comfortably run complex data applications and make voice calls at the same time, more affordably than ever before. Regardless of the type of size of the vessel, FleetBroadband offers a compact solution that can easily be accommodated, providing the boat with optimal connectivity, no matter what the conditions, or where you are.The system is easy to install, allows immediate network integration, enables total flexibility, is cost-effective, and offers complete security.
Not only are your communications instantly upgraded, but fans can feel more connected to the race itself by being able to receive live videos, photos, and blogs in real-time. This interactive process will surely help the sport gain new audiences wherever internet access is available. Allowing those who would not have previously been able to view the race to watch the grand spectacle is a positive for everyone involved.
As the competitors round the Cape of Good Hope and continue pushing the limits of their sport, all while traversing the globe, they have a certain confidence in the factors that used to be unpredictable and inefficient. With proper maritime communication systems, our Volvo Ocean Race crews can feel safe and confident that they have the resources to do great things.
Intentions for new and enhanced products and services
BGAN M2M service
Inmarsat is planning to launch a new BGAN machine to machine (M2M) platform and service consisting of new user terminals that can access the BGAN M2M services and new pricing.
The intent is to address more fully the market opportunity for users that require a low cost terminal specifically designed for data reporting / SCADA applications with unmanned functionality and reliability. BGAN M2M terminals will be based on either Class1 or 2 functionality and will be packet switched only. Service introduction for BGAN M2M with the HNS9502 is intended for February 2012.
IsatPhone Pro - personal alerting feature
Inmarsat is designing a personal alerting feature for IsatPhone Pro. For the consumer market, this functionality is for peace of mind; for the corporate market, demand is driven by duty of care by employers, and in some instances, it is a legal requirement that lone workers in remote areas have a means of contact. The personal alert feature is incorporated into the IsatPhone Pro man machine interface menu structure. As with most alerting features, it is a two step procedure, i.e. on activating the alert, the handset would query and then the user would confirm the action.
This new feature is intended for release by December 2011.
Multi-voice on FleetBroadband
The multi-voice service will be offered by Inmarsat to fulfill the strong market demand for additional voice lines on FleetBroadband, especially for segregation of bridge communication from other operational or crew calling facilities. This enhanced voice service now allows up to 9 voice calls supporting the standard range of supplementary services offered for existing telephony voice service. In particular, each additional call will be allocated a unique number and be fully interoperable with short code dialling and pre-paid platforms.
The Inmarsat multi-voice service will be enabled across existing and new FleetBroadband terminals subject to implementation by the manufacturer (Thrane confirmed that they will do it). Existing terminals will require either a firmware upgrade or an external multi-voice PBX to support the service. On the network ground infrastructure, the BGAN platform is being upgraded with packetized voice infrastructure and new billing subsystem capabilities to offer this service enhancement.
This capability will be offered as two options during SIM activation, a standard multi-voice option providing four voice lines and an enhanced multi-voice option providing 9 voice lines. The enhanced multi-voice option is available for FleetBroadband users with a FleetBroadband 250 or a FleetBroadband 500 terminal.
The multi-voice service is intended to become available from April 2012.
Dynamic telemetry service (DTS) for FleetBroadband
Inmarsat is developing a new dynamic telemetry service (DTS) data reporting service for FleetBroadband in response to maritime requirements. The FleetBroadband DTS service will enable a range of services from position reporting to engine monitoring as well as many other applications. The FleetBroadband DTS service represents a step change in data polling capabilities from Inmarsat C or Isat Data Pro services. The roll-out of FleetBroadband DTS services will require a firmware upgrade for existing FleetBroadband terminals that will be made available by FleetBroadband manufacturers.
Inmarsat intends service availability in early 2012 with selected hardware manufacturers. We are currently evaluating this service and when/if we will be supporting it.
Sending video updates to the expedition website, Impossible2Possible Expedition Bolivia used Inmarsat’s BGAN Service to broadcast live chemistry experiments to schools across North America during a run across the Salar de Uyni salt flats in the Bolivian Andes. The Salar de Uyni salt flats are the largest salt flats in the world. During the 7 day expedition the students ran 200km (124 miles), crossing the massive 4,085 square miles of the salt flats. Expedition Boliviais the fourth adventure run by the Impossible2Possible Experiential Learning Program, known for providing online educational support to schools around the world.
Dubbed “youth Ambassadors’, Ray Zahab, the program founder, invited five students to run across the salt flats at altitudes of up to 4,572 meters (15,000 ft). The students were joined by Dr. George Agnes, a chemistry professor from Simon Fraser University in California and Dr Greg Wells, an expert in human physiology from Toronto. In celebration of the International Year of Chemistry, the scientists conducted live experiments designed to explain the natural elements of Salar de Uyuni - including the properties of salt and the effect of high altitude on the human body. Using BGAN X-Stream to stream live video, the GUARANTEED data rates from 384 up to 450kbps provided the speeds necessary to share the experiments with thousands of students in real time.
"BGAN has provided us with exceptional broadband connectivity in the harsh Siberian wilderness, the Tunisian desert and now the remote Andes," said Zahab. I'm continually impressed by the system's durability and reliability, which has helped us bring our message of education, inspiration and empowerment to millions worldwide."
During the expedition Inmarsat also provided a range of value-added services including its BGAN Dashboard to monitor and control airtime usage, and GPS tracking to follow the expedition and ensure their safety
A photojournalist tested out IsatPhone Pro's credentials when he took Inmarsat's global handheld satellite phone on a road trip through one of the world's last great wildernesses, the Kimberley region of Western Australia covering nearly 164,000 square miles.
Neerav Bhatt, whose Rambling Thoughts technology blog is one of the most popular in Australia, decided to see how iSatPhone Pro would cope with the heat and dust in the continent's remote north-west frontier.
For travellers and those who live in the Kimberley region, satellite communications can be the only reliable method of contacting the outside world.
So Neerav was keen to investigate the satellite phone's affordability as well.
Before being supplied with an IsatPhone Pro by Inmarsat he admitted: "I expected it to be big, heavy and thought the phone and usage costs would be quite expensive."
But, as he recorded in his blog: "Surprisingly, the phone handset is not huge – it's comparable to an early-generation cordless home phone - and the cost of buying an IsatPhone Pro in Australia is quite comparable to the cost of buying a mid- to high-end 3G smartphone on a prepay account.
"I found calls to landlines were more reliable and had better audio quality than calls to mobile phones."
Recognizing that a hand held satellite telephone is now a viable, potentially life saving accessory for wilderness driving and exploration, Land Rover Owner International magazine decided to subject two of the leading models to some rigorous testing to see which one offered the most worthwhile investment for its adventurous readers. Testing pitted Iridium’s model 9555 against Inmarsat’s recently launched IsatPhone Pro in a variety of independent trials, analyzing ease of use, clarity of transmission, battery life, reliability and value for the money.
The two phones were taken to Wales, as well as to Arizona and Utah in the US, where they were challenged with maintaining contact with a base location while operating over a wide variety of terrain, including mountains, valleys, forests, a high rise city center and, of course, moving vehicles. The IsatPhone Pro outscored the 9555 in every category except ease of use, where both phones were determined to be equal.
Tests found it difficult to have an extended conversation with the 9555 in built up areas or mountainous terrain due to the phones tendency to “drop” calls. The report also notes:
"The IsatPhone Pro wins in battery life and in high-rise urban areas, where we found that the high altitude of the Inmarsat network generally gave better reception once we had found the right place to stand."
Russ Brown, the magazines technology editor concludes: "For the purchaser the most significant difference is price, with the Iridium 9555 being almost twice as expensive to buy and use."
Inmarsat, the world’s leading provider of mobile satellite communications, is especially proud to sponsor the work of Télécoms Sans Frontières, the French charity which deploys emergency teams for the purpose of restoring communications in disaster zones. Inmarsat supplies TSF with free satellite communications equipment and financial support which enables the organization to provide telephone, fax, email, internet, data and image transmission any where on the planet regardless of the circumstances.
TSF sets up telecom centers and helps co-ordinate first responders' relief efforts, enabling survivors to telephone loved-ones to say they're alive. TSF is excited to announce the recent signing of a ground-breaking agreement with the United Nations establishing the charity as the UN’s principal communications provider in disaster situations.
In 2007, Inmarsat’s support for TSF was recognised with a top award for corporate social responsibility at the annual the Gulf Marketing Review Effectiveness in Marketing Awards, held in Dubai. The award focused on their support for the charity's mission during the conflict inLebanon in 2006, in which more than 1,000 Lebanese and 160 Israelis were killed and an estimated 1 million people had to flee their homes.
Supported by Inmarsat’s equipment and technical expertise, TSF teams set up telecoms centers that enabled more than 600 Lebanese families to make contact with their loved-ones. These centers also helped co-ordinate communications for some 22 relief organisations working in the region.
Other missions where TSF and Inmarsat contributed to saving lives include:
February 2008 - Mozambique floods
Flooding in the Zambezi River basin saw an estimated 100,000 people flee their homes. In support of UNICEF, TSF was there, setting up two communication centers, co-ordinating relief operations and enabling victims the opportunity to contact loved-ones.
November 2007 - Bangladesh hit by cyclone
TSF supported relief efforts in Bangladesh after Cyclone Sidr hit, affecting 30 of the country's 64 districts. Countless homes were destroyed, claiming more than 3,000 lives and leaving over 350,000 people without shelter.
September 2007 - Nicaragua hurricane
Hurricane Felix left a trail of destruction that affected an estimated 162,000 Nicaraguans, damaging more than 10,000 homes and leaving 67 people dead and another 110 missing.
September 2007 - Severe flooding in Ghana
Thousands of homes were destroyed by heavy flooding. Large areas of cropland were ruined, leading to the collapse of several major bridges - killing 20 and affecting more than 260,000 people.
August 2007 - Earthquake shakes coastline of Peru
Measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale, an earthquake struck the coastline nearPeru's capital,Lima, killing more than 500 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.
May 2007 - Uruguay hit by worst floods in 50 years
A national disaster was declared following the most severe floods in half a century. 12,000 people were forced to flee their homes. Crops and infrastructure were devastated.
April 2007 - Tsunami strikes Solomon Islands
An undersea earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale triggered a tsunami that pounded the remote Pacific islands in the Solomons. 35 people were killed and some 5,500 were left homeless.
February 2007 - Double blow for Mozambique
Severe flooding left an estimated 90,000 people homeless following a category 4 tropical cyclone. Another 60,000 people were in need of shelter.
May 2006 - Earthquake kills thousands on Java
An earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale struck theIsland of Java, killing almost 6,000 people and leaving an estimated 1.5 million homeless.
May 2006 - Floods in Surinam
Torrential rains caused several major rivers to flood in southern and central Surinam,South America. 37,000 people were left homeless.
February 2006 - Mudslides in the Philippines
Prolonged heavy rain followed by a minor earthquake caused a series of mudslides in the province of Southern Leyte in the Philippines. Hundreds of people were killed, including almost all the children and staff of a village school.
October 2005 - Earthquake in Pakistan
An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale in Pakistan-administered Kashmir killed more than 90,000 people - mostly in remote mountainous areas.
Mobile Satellite communications is considered the most effective and reliable platform for communications during emergencies. With Hurricane Irene creating havoc in the east coast of U.S., LightSquared and Inmarsat have joined hands to support the hurricane Irene’s emergency responders.
Wireless communications are the best sought-after communication option during emergency response, rescue, or relief situation. However, terrestrial wireless hardware such as cell phones or land mobile radios are useful and operative only when communications towers and other fixed equipment are in place, which is unlikely during natural calamities.
Satellite communications is the best solution during chaotic situations, because satellites are the only wireless communications infrastructure that are not susceptible to damage from disasters, for the reason that the main repeaters sending and receiving signals (the satellite spacecraft) are located outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
According to a press release, LightSquared and Inmarsat have joined forces to ensure that their respective emergency services customers have reliable access to indispensable satellite communications to support their Hurricane Irene relief efforts.
"Given the tremendous impact Hurricane Irene has had on the east coast of the United States, it is vital that first responders have unfettered access to reliable communications," said Sanjiv Ahuja, chairman and chief executive officer of LightSquared, in a statement. "LightSquared, working with Inmarsat (News - Alert), is committed to ensuring that those on the front lines of this national emergency have seamless connectivity with one another."
"During emergencies such as Hurricane Irene, reliable satellite communications is essential for emergency responders and government agencies," said Andrew Sukawaty, chairman and chief executive officer of Inmarsat, in a press release. "Together with LightSquared we have moved rapidly to ensure that we have sufficient capacity to support emergency management agencies and first responders."
As the nation's first integrated 4G-LTE wireless broadband and satellite network, LightSquared has an aim to advance the U.S. wireless industry. Lightsquared deploys an open 4G wireless broadband network to be used by existing as well as new service providers to sell their own devices, applications and services – at a competitive cost.
Inmarsat is a provider of worldwide mobile satellite communications services. They have been offering reliable voice and high-speed data communications to government and it’s agencies, enterprises and other organizations, with a range of services that can be used on land, at sea or in the air, since 1979.
Currently, two kinds of satellite communications networks exist to support emergency response activities: geostationary satellite systems (GEO); and low Earth orbit satellites (LEO). The GEO satellites are located 23,269 miles above the Earth in a fixed position. This coverage provided by both Inmarsat and Lightsquared satellites, cover up to one third of the globe. They are capable of providing a full range of communications services, such as voice, video and high speed broadband data.
Inmarsat, the world’s premier provider or mobile satellite communications, is proud to announce the signing of a contract with International Launch Services (ILS) to launch the new Inmarsat-5 satellite on board ILS’ Proton launch vehicle. The three state-of-the-art 702HP Ka-band spacecraft, currently being built by Boeing, are scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrone in Kazakhstan in 2013-2014. The I-5’s will support Inmarsats forthcoming Global Xpress™ network.
Including launch costs, Inmarsat will invest an estimated US$1.2 billion in the Global Xpress program. Global Xpress will offer seamless global coverage and deliver unprecedented mobile broadband speeds of up to 50Mbps, providing Global access to all sectors of the market, including government, maritime, enterprise, energy and aeronautical.
Inmarsats most recent launch, the Inmarsat-4, was successfully carried out by ILS from Baikonur in August 2008. The Proton vehicle is Russia's premier heavy-lift launcher and is built by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, the majority owner of ILS. The Proton has successfully launched 31 consecutive missions since July 2008, 365 missions since its maiden flight in 1965.
"Selecting a launch services provider is a critical part of realizing our Global Xpress vision," said Andrew Sukawaty, chairman and CEO of Inmarsat. “Our agreement with ILS shows that we are well on track with our aggressive program for Global Xpress, with service planned to start in 2013. We have partnered with ILS and Khrunichev for previous launches, and look forward to a successful campaign for Inmarsat-5."
Here's another great video on the services and features of the NEW iSatPhone Pro via the inmarsat satellite network
Ask any 20 people on the street what they know about the mobile satellite communications business, 10 will say “you mean like Sprint or Verizon?” A few will ask “like Dish Network, you mean satellite TV?” A few more will just give you a blank stare. MAYBE you’ll find 1 person who has heard of Iridium..."oh yes, that handheld satellite phone gadget thing"? Hooray, thank you for not confusing it with the chemical element of atomic number 77.
The mobile satellite communications business really originated back in the late 1970’s when Inmarsat rolled out the first commercially available communications satellite. 20 years later, there were less than 1 million customers worldwide, today, still less than 2 million end users globally. Inmarsat, still the largest of all of the commercially available communications satellite constellations, did just over 250 million dollars in revenue last year…, not very much relative to other industries, especially when you consider the huge investment (billions of dollars) required to launch and maintain these very expensive and complex constellations (satellites)!
Mobile Satellite communications is the “definition” of a niche business. Almost without fail, if there is ANY other alternative available, cell phones, land lines, 2 juice cans and a string, smoke signals, you name it, it will be less expensive than satellite. Combine the “sticker shock” that generally applies to one’s first exposure to satellite communications with the “perceived” complexity of the product and you’ve gone a long way towards explaining the reason for the limited market. We haven’t even mentioned the fact that most people seldom if ever even venture into the realm where there are no landlines or cell phones available and therefore have no reason to ever be exposed to satellite communications.
So why is there even a satellite communications industry, if there aren’t very many customers and they don’t generate that much revenue? Because the people that need it REALLY need it, and they’re willing to pay for it because other options don't exist. Mobile Satellite communications is always the choice of last resort for anyone who requires communicating in remote parts of the world, but nevertheless, it is a choice. It is the lifeblood of the shipping industry, oil and gas exploration and recovery, emergency and disaster relief operations, aircraft communications and navigation. It plays an absolutely vital role in military operations throughout the world. It isn’t too much of a stretch to say that life as we know it today would be very different if it were not for satellite communications. It touches EVERYONE, whether they realize it or not.