Figure 1. Global Xpress Network Coverage, credit: Inmarsat
What are the Benefits of Global Xpress?
Inmarsat’s Global Xpress provides a number of advantages when compared to other satellite networks including increased operational efficiencies from a single global network, improved terminal ease of use and deployment with One Touch Commissioning and advanced antenna pointing technologies, and more compact high performance terminals than is possible with Ku- and other lower frequency systems.
An advantage of operating on a globally unified managed network is that each individual terminal maintains the same network IP address wherever it is powered on. Additionally, because GX is the same network anywhere in the world, operators can use a single set of deployable terminals, rather than maintaining a mix of legacy terminals that will only work in specific regions. The GX satellites also host a combination of narrow spot beams and steerable overlay beams, meaning that additional capacity can be directed in real-time to where it’s needed, further driving operational efficiencies.
Figure 2. Global Xpress Network Architecture, credit: Inmarsat
One Touch Commissioning (OTC) is a system design unique to the GX capability and common to all GX terminals. This is fundamentally a concept whereby the core module, BUC/transceiver and terminal positioner (or assisted pointing mechanism for manual terminals) are tightly integrated through the implementation of open standard communication protocols.
For the end user, this means they can commission a terminal onto the network with little or no previous VSAT experience and without having to contact a network operations centre. Pointing and commissioning is especially easy with transportable terminals which include robust pointing assistants or auto acquisition systems. As an example, Skyware Technologies employs this OTC technology with all of its GX terminals, including the transportable flyaway ATOM 65 GX Auto-Acquire, a light-weight and rugged antenna system which can be assembled in about two minutes with no tools.
Figure 3. The One Touch Commissioning Process, credit: Inmarsat
Ka-band VSAT solutions, such as the ATOM 65, are more light-weight and compact than similarly performing terminals in lower frequency bands. In fact, the higher Ka-band frequency and High Throughput Satellite (HTS) architecture results in faster throughput connections, giving the I-5 satellites broadband connectivity that is up to 100 times faster than the company's fourth generation (I-4) satellites.
What are the Applications?
The Inmarsat-5 satellites will cater to a variety of customers across a range of applications. Customers will include commercial businesses such as in resource exploration and extraction, TV news crews reporting from the field, aid agencies operating in disaster areas, and government civilian agencies and armed forces. The GX network will provide a comprehensive range of global mobile satellite services that enable high-resolution video, voice and data connectivity.
Commercial – Global and multi-regional businesses, such as banking and retail require reliable network extensions to underserved areas for uses such as point of sale data collection, remote ATM, video surveillance and broadband internet. For these customers, the key benefits of GX are faster deployment and simplicity in infrastructure from a single network provider.
Satellite News Gathering – For broadcasters and TV crews who require connectivity to transmit live and recorded video from wherever news and sporting events are happening, the Global Xpress network enables higher availability and more reliable broadcasting. Transportable GX terminals with One Touch Commissioning (OTC) also enable faster deployment, leading to the ability of newscasters to establish video feeds more quickly in pressing situations and with minimal equipment training. Most recently, GX terminals have been used to aid in the reporting of April and May 2015’s devestating earthquakes in Nepal.
Oil and Gas – The GX constellation addresses a combination of offshore and land communications requirements, enabling voice, video and data services, supporting mission critical and crew welfare traffic. Service packages for oil and gas customers are designed specifically for high throughput, to handle the combined demand of multiple tenants.
NGOs - NGOs require connectivity in remote dispersed communities to deliver quality healthcare and other human aid services. Using Global Xpress, field teams can virtually bring a full range of healthcare specialists anywhere they go.
Government – Global Xpress is the only commercial network that’s interoperable with MILSATCOM Ka-band networks such as WGS, allowing the U.S. government to cost-effectively augment its system when needed – GX can be integrated smoothly with their own platforms, or serve as a standalone solution. The GX network includes secure gateway enclaves, which supports enhanced security solutions, effectively seperating government and commercial traffic. In addition, the I-5 satellites include steerable high capacity overlay beams which can be used to increase bandwidth on demand where and when it is needed.
When is the intended Service Launch?
The third and final Global Xpress satellite, Inmarsat-5 F3 (I-5 F3), is preparing for launch before the end of 2015, and will signify the completion the GX constellation. Full commercial launch of global GX services is expected thereafter. Type approval of fixed and transportable antenna systems is underway now as network beta testing takes place, with hardware and services available for purchase from Inmarsat’s GX VAR channel coincident with service launch before the end of the year.