Satellite communications player Inmarsat unveiled a plan to combine its existing system with a forthcoming Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation and terrestrial 5G assets to create a single network targeted at a range of corporate customers, the latest move in the connectivity space race.
Inmarsat’s new combined offer will be named Orchestra and will be targeted at a range of customer segments including maritime, aviation and government organisations.
The company will invest $100 million in building the system over the next five years, pitching it as “the communications network of the future”.
Inmarsat claims potential new use cases will include close shore navigation for autonomous vessels, next-generation safety systems for maritime crews and “direct-to-cloud connections for airlines”.
In addition to segments it already serves, it plans to target companies with energy rigs and drilling platforms, passenger ships and operators of mid-market business aircraft.
Orchestra will combine coverage from its existing Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites with a constellation of 150 to 175 LEO birds and a 5G terrestrial network, with the new land-based assets set to be developed first.
Inmarsat CEO Rajeev Suri said 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.”
The move comes as the race for delivering low-latency connectivity from space hots-up, with Elon Musk-led venture Starlink currently in the trial phase and OneWeb in the process of improving its coverage.