The deployment of this satellite will mark the final stage of the company's preparations for its FleetBroadband service, paving the way for the full global launch of the high-speed satellite communications system.
Inmarsat has reached an agreement with International Launch Services (ILS) to manage the launch, though it has also retained an option to launch the satellite on an Atlas launch vehicle in 2009 from Cape Canaveral, USA, as a backup capability, should any problems develop with the current schedule.
?Our agreement with ILS has enabled us to accelerate our launch plans for the I-4 F3,? said Andrew Sukawaty, Inmarsat CEO.
?The third satellite will provide global coverage for our existing BGAN service and will benefit our new broadband maritime and aeronautical services as well as our global satellite phone service. This will provide incremental opportunities for growth in our maritime and aeronautical markets."
This satellite is the last of the three I-4 satellites built for Inmarsat by EADS Astrium. The I-4 F1 was launched in March 2005, and has an orbital slot over the Indian Ocean at 64 degrees East, while the I-4 F2 was launched in November 2005, and provides coverage for the Americas from an orbital slot at 154 degrees West.
The I-4 F3 was initially constructed as a ground spare for the two original launches in 2005, but following the successful deployment of the first two satellites plans shifted towards adding the F3 to the network. Its launch and orbital position will fully complete the I-4 constellation and support the global delivery of FleetBroadband.
This announcement has come at the same time that Inmarsat released its Q2 financial results for 2007, which showed an 11 per cent increase in revenues in the maritime sector compared with the same period in 2006, to $80.2 million.
This increase was mainly fuelled by increased usage of data services, which grew by over 18 per cent. Growth in voice services was less than 0.5 per cent in comparison, reflecting shifting trends in the nature of maritime satellite services similar to those reported by other service providers.