Inmarsat plans $US1.4B broadband mobile network

Satellite communications operator Inmarsat has awarded a $US700 million contract to Astrium, formerly Matra Marconi Space, to build three satellites for a new broadband satellite network, Inmarsat I-4, the company said in a statement yesterday.

The company plans to invest a further $700 million in satellite ground stations, distribution and billing and support systems, bringing the total cost of the Broadband Global Area Network to $1.4 billion. Inmarsat will bring the network operation during 2004, according to the statement.

The network will enable Inmarsat to deliver Internet and intranet content, video-on-demand, video conferencing, fax, e-mail, voice and LAN access at speeds up to 432k-bps (bits per second) virtually anywhere in the world via notebook or palm top computers, the company said in the statement. The new network will provide at least ten times the capacity of Inmarsat's existing I-3 network, which supports connections up to 64k-bps, and has the potential to reduce raw service costs by around 75 percent, according to the statement.

The company expects the network to generate wholesale revenue over its life cycle in excess of $10 billion, according to the statement.

Inmarsat expects that by 2003, some 70 percent of traffic on its I-3 network will be data.

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