Inmarsat unveils plans for new comms network Orchestra
Inmarsat has unveiled plans for its new communications network Orchestra. The network will bring together existing geosynchronous (GEO) satellites with low earth orbit satellites (LEO) and terrestrial 5G into one integrated solution, in the largest ever transformation of its Inmarsat’s current services.
“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,” said Rajeev Suri, CEO of Inmarsat.
“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 planning to open up new possibilities for business aviation users. New services include close-shore navigation for autonomous vessels, next-generation emergency safety services for maritime crews, secure and tactical private networks for governments and direct-to-cloud connections for airlines. The initial five-year (2021-2026) total investment for the communications network is expected to be in the order of $100m.
LEO, GEO and terrestrial networks have never been combined at scale before to create a connectivity service for mobility customers. Bringing together the lowest average latency and fastest average speeds, Orchestra users will no longer deal with congested network ‘hot spots’.
Inmarsat’s existing GEO satellites – both GX and L-band – will continue to provide global coverage. 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.
The network uses dynamic mesh technology, which allows individual customer terminals to direct traffic to and from other customer terminals. This means that a ship within reach of a 5G ground station can receive ample capacity for its own needs as well as route capacity onwards to other vessels beyond terrestrial reach.
Suri added: “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.”