Inmarsat to double APAC capacity as first I-6 is prepared for commercial service

Inmarsat reports that it has successfully connected the company’s latest I-6 F1 satellite to new ground stations in Western Australia, as it looks to upgrade its satcom capacity in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

I-6 F1 launched in December 2021 and spent seven months travelling to geostationary orbit above the Atlantic, using its all-electric propulsion system. After in-orbit testing in the second half of 2022, the spacecraft is now at its final orbital slot above the Indian Ocean.

Inmarsat says it will begin increasing its capacity and transition services to the new satellite throughout 2023, beginning with the first customers from Q2.

The announcement follows the successful recent launch of I-6 F1’s twin – I-6 F2 – which lifted off from Cape Canaveral in February. Like F1, I-6 F2 will reach its geostationary orbital slot later this year, where it will undergo in-orbit-testing. That satellite will enter operational service over Europe, Africa, and much of the Americas in mid-2024.

The I-6 series represents the company’s first hybrid satellite design, featuring both L-band and Ka-band communications payloads. Each of the I-6 satellites offer 50% more L-band capacity than Inmarsat’s entire previous I-4 generation, effectively doubling its L-band capacity. They also provide 20 Ka-band spot beams that can be dynamically directed to meet demand in different areas.

“We are seeing rising demand for our services across the board, as airlines offer faster services for passengers, shipping companies use automated navigation, and industries aim to decarbonise through the Internet of Things,” said Peter Hadinger, Chief Technology Officer, Inmarsat.

“Our I-6 satellites are designed to meet that demand into the 2040s over two of the busiest regions in the world, as we enable a smarter, more connected society. Having double the beams, 50% more spectrum per beam and double the power of our I-4 satellites, the I-6s’ advanced processors can match customer demand as and where it is needed in real-time.”

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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