New satellite to create global high-speed Wi-Fi network

Then new Inmarsat satellite blasts off from Kazakhstan
Then new Inmarsat satellite blasts off from Kazakhstan

A new satellite has been launched which is aimed at providing global high-speed broadband internet access.

The Boeing-built Inmarsat-5 satellite (I-5 F3) blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday, and entered Earth’s orbit early on Saturday morning. It will become fully operational later this year.

I-5 F3 will join two other satellites that are already in orbit to create the first, globally available high-speed mobile broadband network delivered by a single operator. The company said the new satellites will be able to provide “steerable beams” that direct additional capacity to Wi-Fi users “on land, at sea and in the air.”

This is likely to provide a major boost to tourism operators, including airlines and cruise ships, which have long struggled with poor Wi-Fi speeds.

“We have been working towards this day ever since we announced plans to create the Global Xpress constellation in 2010. I am delighted that we now have three Global Xpress satellites in orbit, enabling us to provide global GX services by the end of the year,” said Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat. “This is a significant milestone for Inmarsat; one that will offer major growth opportunities and promises to change the face of our industry.

“The Inmarsat Global Xpress network will be the first high-speed Ka-band broadband network to span the world. New technology and engineering design will allow us to steer capacity where it’s needed most and adjust to shifting subscriber usage patterns and evolving demographics over the minimum 15-year lifespan of the network. We can now look forward to the introduction of global GX commercial services by the end of this year,” he added.

The first Global Xpress satellite, I-5 F1, was launched in December 2013 and entered commercial service in July 2014, covering Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. This was followed by the launch of I-5 F2 on 1 February 2015, which covers the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean and entered commercial service in August.

A fourth Boeing-built satellite, I-5 F4, is scheduled for delivery in mid-2016.

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