Inmarsat, the Total Communications Network(TM) Via Satellite, has today demonstrated a major commitment to aeronautical communications services by announcing a NOK 24 million (US$ 3.8 million) development agreement with Nera. The contract with Nera SatCom, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nera, is to develop the hardware and software required to upgrade the Ground Earth Stations (GESs) that support the Inmarsat H, H+ and I services for aeronautical users.
The GES upgrade programme will improve the capacity and efficiency of Inmarsat’s classic aeronautical services, and will enable aircraft to more easily upgrade to the high-speed Swift64 or SwiftBroadband services.
“The upgrade of some of the major components within the GESs will not only ensure a continuing high quality of service for safety and commercial communications into the next decade, but will also pave the way for system improvements over the satellites,” said Tony Busby, Director of Product and Service Management at Inmarsat.
Nera will be the only manufacturer able to upgrade the GES operators. Work on the development programme has already begun, and is scheduled to be completed in Q3 2006, although GESs can begin upgrading from early 2006. Once the upgrade is completed, GES operators will be able to increase their data and voice channel capacity by adding the latest generation of Nera’s channel unit boards. This will allow the services to operate within the spot beams of both Inmarsat’s current satellites and the forthcoming fourth-generation of satellites, the Inmarsat 4s, the first of which is being launched in March 2005.
“By enabling the services to work completely in spot beams, we are ensuring that there is satellite capacity available to support the anticipated growth of FANS-related data traffic” said Busby.
Nera is a leading provider of gateway technology to the Inmarsat system and has delivered solutions for Inmarsat’s ground segment for more than 20 years. The company’s installed base includes 130 GESs. “Nera is proud to deploy its satellite communications technology to further enhance Inmarsat’s aeronautical services. This development agreement demonstrates the high level of activity within the satellite communications industry and the continued strong demand for aeronautical satellite communications,” commented Terje Ask-Henriksen, President Nera SatCom.
“Although much of the focus today is on Swift64 and the forthcoming SwiftBroadband service, Inmarsat’s classical aeronautical services are one of the cornerstones in our offering, and this programme clearly shows Inmarsat’s commitment to the aeronautical industry,” said Lars Ringertz, Head of Marketing for Aeronautical Business at Inmarsat.
Virtually all long haul aircrafts delivered from Airbus and Boeing are equipped with Inmarsat equipment enabling them to use the classical services for safety and commercial applications. When SwiftBroadband becomes available it will be used in parallel with the classical services with integrated avionics over the same antennas.
“Today we have a healthy growth both in the number of installed terminals and we expect this to continue in the future as a result of this programme,” said Ringertz.
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