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FleetBroadband – New Inmarsat Link

Over the past 15 years, means of satellite Internet access have been rapidly developing on the high seas, beyond the reach of coastal communication networks.
For yachts and small vessels, dial-up became the first available – connection via satellite phones Globalstar, Inmarsat Mini-M, Iridium, Thuraya.

The cost of communication was high, the speed was measured not in megabytes, but in kilobits per second. Later VSAT compact (with a diameter of half a meter) antennas appeared, working with various Ku-band satellites; channel capacity reached 1 Mb / s, with the ability to transfer large volumes. Apart from a slight signal delay due to the large distance from the terminal to the satellite, Internet browsing has become almost as comfortable as in the office and at home. The cost of each kilobit has also decreased markedly. Since 2008, compact shipborne broadband access devices from Inmarsat, the oldest provider of marine satellite communications, have also appeared. With a slightly lower communication speed, among other advantages, it is distinguished by smaller antenna sizes, reliability, tariffing depending on the actually transmitted information volumes and global coverage of the entire oceans.

The need for new marine mobile radio services, including satellite communications, and in their quality has increased both for merchant ships or passenger liners, and for small sailing or motor yachts. One of the requirements was the presence on board of the Internet and its applications with high-speed data transfer. Of course, regular telephone service is also needed. For this, the INMARSAT company developed and put into operation new communication services and a series of ship stations, which received the general name FleetBroadband, or FB. This is a system of marine broadband communication services using the Internet protocol for transmitting and receiving data over the standard IP protocol and guaranteed IP channel, voice, SMS, fax and data transmission via ISDN using compact ship stations via the new Inmarsat satellites fourth generation.

New satellites and service areas

Broadband is available through three new Inmarsat satellites. These fourth-generation satellites with a life of at least until 2020 got their name in accordance with the areas served: 1-4 Americas (North, Central and South America), 1-4 EMEA (Europe. Middle East and Africa) and 1-4 Asia-Pacific (Asian and Pacific Regions) with adjacent ocean areas. The characters “1-4” stand for Inmarsat 4th generation.

Inmarsat-B, -C, -M, -Mini-M, -F33, -F55, and -F77 communication systems operate four other third-generation satellites through other satellites: AOR-E (Atlantic Ocean Eastern Region), AOR-W (Atlantic Ocean West), IOR (Indian Ocean) and POR (Pacific). The service areas of all satellites cover areas between approximately 76 ° north and south with an elevation angle of 5 “above the horizon. Practice shows that the maximum latitude reaches 80 ‘, but this is more interesting for Arctic navigation than for our audience.

Total: Inmarsat communication systems operate through seven third and fourth generation geostationary satellites, three more satellites are used as backup and for leasing (leased).

Inmarsat’s new project is the launch of the new Alpliasat 1-XL satellite in 2012-2013, which will further expand the capabilities of fourth-generation satellites for broadband communications. Preliminary negotiations have also begun on the next, fifth generation of Inmarsat satellites.

Ship stations

What requirements may owners of small yachts have for radio communication systems? Firstly, it should be inexpensive in terms of equipment and traffic, providing the required set of communication services in the area of ​​the proposed navigation and, of course, reliable and easy to operate. The system should be compact in size as a satellite dish and on-deck electronic equipment, and energy-efficient. At the same time, modern yacht users want to have on board the same communication services and their applications that are already available on ocean-going vessels: Internet, email, video, SMS, telephony, etc.

These requirements are met by the new family of broadband shipboard satellite stations, which includes three systems: Inmarsat-FBSOO, -FB250 and -FBI50, where the numbers indicate the approximate maximum data transfer speed (in contrast to the approximate antenna diameter in centimeters for Inmarsat Fleet-77 systems, – 55 and -33).

Compared to previous systems, all of them are small in size and weight, but for the yacht community, the most compact FB150 is of most interest.

The FB150 is Inmarsat’s latest addition to the existing FB500 and FB250 systems for marine users, which provides data transfer over the Internet protocol up to 150 Kb / s, voice telephony and SMS messaging. The weight of the antenna is approximately 2.5 kg, height 22 cm, diameter 28 cm.

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