Global mobile satellite giant Inmarsat will launch, in partnership with The Boeing Company, three state-of-the-art 702HP Ka-band satellites, commercializing them in 2014.
The Inmarsat-5 constellation will allow Inmarsat to market what it said will be “a unique, global, high-speed mobile broadband service offering” initially dubbed Global Xpress.
Global Xpress, which will target a $1.4 billion incremental market opportunity in VSAT services, will address “the established, growing markets for VSAT services in the maritime, energy and government sectors, with further growth potential in developing markets such as the aeronautical sector,” an Inmarsat statement continued. “Global Xpress will deliver seamless global coverage and unprecedented mobile broadband with speeds up to 50MB/s to customer terminals from 20-60cm in size.”
Inmarsat is estimating $500 million in annual Ka-band revenues five years after service launch. Under a separate arrangement, Boeing has agreed to become a distribution partner for both Inmarsat’s Ka- and L-band services; it also has contracted for capacity purchases representing more than 10 percent of Inmarsat’s target Ka-band revenues in that first five years.
Commented Inmarsat Chairman and CEO Andrew Sukawaty, “This is a new investment for new growth. With the Global Xpress network, we will be the first operator to offer global mobile broadband coverage, offering unparalleled speeds and bandwidth to customers in remote locations around the world. Global Xpress will be faster and less expensive than current Ku-band market offerings, delivered to smaller and cheaper terminals and be the first offered on a seamless, global, end to end basis with high quality of service. Picture 50MB/s services to a ship or aircraft and 10MB/s to an antenna the size of an iPad.”
He continued, “Inmarsat-5 will also complement our existing global L-band services, allowing us to offer unique hybrid packages using both networks, giving users unprecedented levels of resilience and reliability in remote and harsh environments.”
Explaining how the constellation will be financed, CFO Rick Medlock said, “We expect the Inmarsat-5 program to be largely funded from our internally generated cash flows and, with significant available liquidity today, we see no immediate financing needs. In connection with the Boeing contract, we are seeking Export Credit Agency financing support from the US Ex-Im Bank, which could provide an attractive source of long-term debt. Given the multi-year build phase and the strong free cash flow from our existing business, we believe the peak impact on our ratio of net debt to EBITDA will be less than 0.5.”
The operator also believes Inmarsat-5 will start the gradual replacement of its L-band network, resulting in a deferment of more than $500 million of its previously planned replacement spend during the next 11 years.