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Lift-Off For Inmarsat's Global Broadband

LONDON — Satellite network operator Inmarsat has officially switched on its broadband service, dubbed BGAN. The Broadband Global Area Network is targeted at users in locations with unreliable telecoms infrastructure as well as enterprises.

Six years in development, the service will offer simultaneous voice and data at rates up to 492kbit/s, with the option of transmission speed guaranteed at up to 256kbit/s.

For the moment, the service is limited to the footprint of the first of the operators’ I-4 satellites, which was launched in March and covers Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. It will be extended in the middle of next year to North and South America when the second of the fourth generation satellites, launched last month, is tested and fully commissioned.

This will give coverage for 85 percent of the world’s land mass, and a third satellite is being readied for launch to extend the service to Inmarsat’s traditional clientele in the global maritime and aeronautical communications sector.

Inmarsat says the I-4 satellites are the most advanced commercially used satellites launched, with expectionally long life times and the abilty to dynamically allocate beams wherever required.

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