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INMARSAT

INMARSAT was established as an international cooperative organization similar to INTELSAT, for providing satellite communications for ships and offshore industries. INMARSAT, a specialized agency of UN, was established in 1979 and became operational in 1982 as a maritime focused intergovernmental organization with headquarters located at London. INMARSAT has fortyfour members and also provides services to nonmember countries. INMARSAT has become a limited company since 1999. INMARSAT Ltd is a subsidiary of the INMARSAT Ventures plc holding company, which operates a constellation of geosynchronous satellites for worldwide mobile communications. The satellites are controlled from INMARSAT headquarters at London, which is also home to INMARSAT ventures and a small Intergovernmental office created to supervise the companys public service duties for the maritime community i.e. Global Maritime Distress and Safety System and Air traffic Control communications for the aviation industry. Starting with a user base of about 900 ships in early 1980s, the user base of INMARSAT grew to 210,000 ships, vehicles, aircrafts and portable terminals in 2001. INMARSAT Type A mobile terminals meant for installation in large ships are quite expensive, whereas, portable INMARSAT mini-M terminals are small, cost effective and easy to operate. The services provided by INMARSAT include telephone, fax and data communications up to 64 kbps. Other services include videotext, navigation, weather information and Search & Rescue. INMARSAT Satellites can also be used for emergency Land Mobile Communications for relief work and to re-establish communications or to provide basic service where there is no alternative. INMARSAT can also be used to alert people on shore for coordination of rescue activities. Apart from maritime and Land Mobile Satellite Service, INMARSAT also provide aeronautical satellite service for passenger communications. INMARSAT system operates at C-band and L-band frequencies. The INMARSAT system uses allocations in the 6 GHz band for the ground station to satellite link, 1.5 GHz for satellite terminal downlink, 1.6 GHz for terminal to satellite uplink and 4 GHz for the satellite to ground station down link. ************************

Inmarsat was set up in 1979 to enable ships to stay in constant touch with shore, no matter how far
out to sea. Today our customers are found in many different sectors but they are typically businesses and organisations that need to communicate where terrestrial telecom networks are unreliable or simply cannot reach. As well as merchant shipping, our customers include governments, airlines, the broadcast media, the oil and gas industry, mining, construction, and humanitarian aid agencies to name just a few. They connect to our fleet of 10 satellites using a range of equipment, including handheld satellite phones and notebook-size broadband internet devices, as well as specialist terminals and antennas fitted to ships, aircraft and road vehicles. In fact, we offer the largest portfolio of global satellite communications solutions and value-added services on the market. Our business has grown strongly since 1999 when we became the first intergovernmental organisation to transform into a private company. In 2005, we floated on the London Stock Exchange and in 2009 we acquired Stratos Global, one of our leading distribution partners. This was followed by the purchase of Segovia, a provider of secure IP-based managed solutions to the US Government, as well as leading VSAT provider Ship Equip, based out of Norway, and subsequently its affiliate company, NewWave Broadband, in 2012. Since 2012, all companies in the group trade under the Inmarsat name. Together we specialise in offering a range of cross-platform mobile and fixed satellite, microwave and wireless technologies. With offices in more than 40 locations across every continent, our world-class products, services and solutions and 24/7/365 customer support facilities are available directly from Inmarsat, or you can choose to buy through our worldwide network of independent Distribution Partners and Service Providers

The Inmarsat satellite system is concerned with two kinds of communication as far as maritime stations are concerned - the transmission of emergency traffic, such as distress, urgency and safety messages, to and from vessels at sea, and for routine communications, also in both directions. The Inmarsat system of global satellite communication was proposed by the International Maritime Organisation as a way of overcoming congestion and atmospheric interference. The developing satellite technology of the 1970s made it become a reality and the system became commercially operational in 1982. When Immarsat first started operations it leased capacity on existing satellites. Its initial operations were exclusively concerned with maritime stations, but the system soon expanded as aeronautical and land users realised the benefits of the system and Inmarsat began to launch its own satellites. At the present time, maritime stations still generate about two thirds of the system's traffic.
The world according to Inmarsat is divided into four regions: Atlantic Ocean Region East Indian Ocean Region Atlantic Ocean Region West Pacific Ocean Region

There is a satellite, and usually at least one spare, in geostationary orbit at a height of about 36,000 km over each region. The present orbital locations of the satellites are:

Ocean Region Main Satellite Location AOR-E AOR-W IOR POR Inmarsat-2 F2 Inmarsat-2 F4 Inmarsat-3 F1 Inmarsat-2 F3

Spare Satellite Location 15 degs W

15.5 degs W Marecs - B2 54 degs W 64 degs E 178 degs E

Inmarsat-2 F2 31 degs W Inmarsat-2 F3 65 degs E Marisat-F3 182 degs E

Each satellite can 'see' about one third of the Earth, so there is some overlap between adjacent regions. From a Mobile Earth Station, in our case the vessel wishing to communicate, the satellite being used must be at an elevation of at least 5 degrees above the horizon for there to be reliable communications. Since the four satellites are in orbit over the equator, this means that the very high latitudes of the polar regions cannot be covered. The area of coverage is effectively from about 70 N to about 70 S. On the ground there are 34 Land Earth Stations, which provide the link between the satellites and the terrestrial telecommunications network. Not all of the LESs can provide all the services so a suitable LES, which is within the footprint of the satellite being worked, must be chosen. The LESs are sometimes called Coast Earth Stations and they are the satellite equivalent of the HF or VHF Coast Stations. However, since there is no necessity for a satellite earth station to be on the coast, and since one third of the mobile traffic generated on the satellite system is from non-maritime mobile stations, Land Earth Station is probably the better term to use. Each LES is assigned a two-digit code number. If that LES can access more than one satellite, then the same code number is used through each satellite that the LES can access. Some LESs in Europe can actually access three satellites, the only one beyond their reach is the Pacific Ocean Region. For any satellite that the LES cannot access, that particular code number could well be allocated to another LES on that satellite. For example, 01 through AOR-W, or through AOR-E is Southbury LES in the eastern USA, but 01 through the POR is Santa Paula on the west coast of the USA. 02 via AOR-W is Goonhilly in the UK, but on the POR or IOR satellite it is Perth in Australia. So care must be taken that the antenna is pointing at the correct satellite, or in the case of Inmarsat-C, that you are logged onto the correct satellite before the code for the LES is entered. In each Ocean Region there is a Network Co-ordination Station. Each NCS continuously monitors the flow of traffic through its satellite and ensures that calls are set up correctly. The NCS is permanently connected to all the LESs that are working through that particular satellite, and it monitors them all to ensure that they are functioning correctly. The NCS allocates the channel to be used by the mobile station and by the LES for each and every call. All the NCSs are in turn monitored and controlled by the Network Control Centre. The NCC

is at the Inmarsat Headquarters in London and it is permanently connected to all the NCSs. Finally, there is the Satellite Control Centre, also located in London, which is responsible for looking after the satellites themselves. The SCC is linked to a series of tracking stations around the world and it monitors the orbit of each satellite, adjusting it as necessary to keep the satellite exactly where it is supposed to be. In 1990, Inmarsat launched the first of its own second-generation satellites and by April 1992, each region had a Series 2 satellite. These satellites were built by a consortium headed by the Space and Communications Division of British Aerospace. The Series 2 satellites were designed with an expected ten-year life. Each weighed some 1,300 kilos at launch and has 1,200 watts of available power - more than twice the power of the original satellites. These satellites in turn are being replaced by Series 3 satellites - the first of which was launched in 1996, and by now, the fourth and last should be in position. These are a lot more powerful again - eight times the power of the Series 2, and some twenty times as powerful as the originals. In addition to the global beam, each of these new satellites has five spot-beams. These are focused onto specific areas of the earth, just as a searchlight might be. This not only focuses the energy into smaller areas, so allowing operation at much lower energy levels, but it also allows the same frequency to be used at the same time in different areas but through the same satellite. This increases the scope for greater numbers of calls to be carried at any given moment. This spot-beam technology, with its lower energy requirement, has opened the door to the possibility of a global portable phone system. The newer satellites can also support a special type of EPIRB called the Inmarsat-E type. With the EPIRB service there are now six Inmarsat services which may be of interest to the mariner. Each service has its own merits and disadvantages. For compulsory GMDSS vessels, not all of the systems can be GMDSS certified. Let's look at each system in turn.