What is Global Express (GX)

  • GX will be a global Ka band VSAT service with a fully integrated L band backup.
  • Time scale – regional service 2013, global 2014.
  • Fast bandwidth up to 50Mbps downlink 5MBbps uplink on 60cm antenna with fasters data speeds on a 1m antenna
  • The bandwidth/airtime is planned to be cheaper than Ku band current VSAT services.
  • Antennas will be cheaper and smaller from Sea Tel, Thrane & Thrane and a 3rd, yet to be announced, manufacturer.
  • Reliability will be not be compromised as the Ka band services will be supported by the integration of an L band Fleet Broad Band (FBB) backup service. GX will work in all weather conditions.

What does this mean?

  • The intention is to replace C & Ku VSAT services across the globe – maritime, land, aviation and government.
  • It will be a single global service from one provider. The coverage will be similar to the current global C band footprint. There will be no need to look at a coverage map.
  • It will be faster than any currently available Ku band VSAT service on a smaller antenna at a reduced cost.
  • It will be an integration of 2 antennas. One for Ka band and the other for L band. Picture it as one pipe going to the vessel with two sub pipes within it with two antennas above decks on the vessel and only one connection to the network below decks.

Structure of GX service

  • The first of the three new I-5 satellites will be launched in 2013. When all three are up in 2014 global service will be provided. They will have 6 steerable beams with extra wide channels for high traffic regions so they can respond to global events such as heavier demand in certain regions, disasters or wars.
  • Beam and sat switching will be automatic.
  • Inmarsat are installing a ground infrastructure with 3 fully redundant satellite access stations with iDirect hubs.
  • Ka band services do currently exist for some military applications and fixed site land based applications but are regional. As far as we know there is no global Ka band competition to Inmarsat now or any known being built.  Inmarsat are investing $1.2 billion on this project.
  • Inmarsat are investing in a Cisco development to seamlessly transfer an IP session from Ka to L band channel with appropriate speed adjustments requiring no customer intervention.
  • Both Sea Tel and Thrane & Thrane will offer a Ka and L band pair of antennas.  As recently announced, Sea Tel will now be developing a Fleet Broadband antenna.

Commercial plans

  • Inmarsat will sell GX only through their Distribution Partners such as MEC and selected Channel Partners.
  • We are providing advice to Stratos and Inmarsat on how to address the yacht market. We are the main Channel Partner for Stratos for the yacht market in Croatia.
  • MEC to launch the first GX VSAT “Ka band ready” solution for the yacht market in 1Q 2012.
  • We will offer a “Ka band ready” GX eVSAT solution in 1Q  2012 aimed at yacht clients looking for either an upgrade or a new installation. It will consist of the following components:
    a)    A Sea Tel 4012 upgradable Ku to Ka band antenna.
    b)    An eVSAT Ku band service in the interim period before Ka band is ready (3-36 months).
    c)    An upgrade to or installation of a Thrane & Thrane FBB 500 new antenna.
    d)    A Stratos L FBB band bundle service to suit that will supplement the VSAT Ku bandwidth when used with eDSC (12-36 month).
    e)    eDSC Data Service Controller to enable the selection of either service individually or as one at a time, bandwidth supplements and management.
    f)     Equipment is purchased with a possible exchange program for the Sea Tel 4012 and FBB 500.Then in 2013/14 when Ka band is on-line we will provide the following:
    a)    Upgrade the Sea Tel 4012 to Ka.
    b)    Cancel Ku and Stratos bundles.
    c)    Tie 4012 and FBB500 together with the new Inmarsat GX service to suit.

Benefits to the client

  • All equipment purchases will be future proof for the next 5 years protecting all CAPEX.
  • It will provide an upgrade to the faster, cheaper communications service GX in 2013/14 at no cost.
  • It will provide affordable much cheaper FBB airtime now which can be used on its own or as a supplement to the VSAT Ku bandwidth.
  • It provides a FBB500 that will be IMO GMDSS approved by 2014 and SOLAS approval by 2015 with an all new Packet Data Safety information for weather, chart updates and navigation warnings also by 2015.

Conclusion

We in AB Marine believe the development of Global Express by Inmarsat is probably the biggest news in the satellite communications field for years. This is a US$1.2 billion investment of a global infrastructure that intends to provide broadband at speeds in excess of 10 times the current Ku band service on smaller antennas. Additional major players including iDirect, Sea Tel and Thrane & Thrane are also involved.
One global service, provided by one player, which owns the satellites through to the sales outlets, is likely to change the shape of the industry in the maritime market.