Bird report, Fleet Broadband & mini-VSAT


When I was researching a PMY article about VSAT and Fleet Broadband sat comms, I asked a fairly reliable source what would happen if Inmarsat lost one of its new I-4 satellites. He rolled his eyes and said, “they’d be dead.” You see, while it only takes three of the new I-4 satellites to provide nearly global BGAN/FB service, the things are huge, and hugely expensive. Which is why getting the third and final bird into orbit was a big deal. Plus the launch has been delayed at least once due to the failure of a similar missile carrying a smaller satellite. I imagine tension was wicked high when the Proton Breeze lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan last night. Can we imagine the financial stress induced watching a critical business asset—for which, by the way, there is no backup—blast into space (especially now that we know how much angst a little electronics bankruptcy can cause). Well, the I-4 F3 satellite launched fine, and thus Fleet Broadband should become global soon. Meanwhile, KVH recently announced that its mini_VSAT service is also going global.  I presume that if things go right, a company can do well with satellite communications, but it does seem like a hairy business.

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

2 Responses

  1. DefJef says:

    Getting affordable fast wireless internet is the next hurdle. I don’t think it will be driven by the marine demand. It’s way too small to drive that development.
    The wiring thing is crazy in the first place. It’s expensive to lay, even all that fiber optic back bone.
    Satellites will be the means off shore for sure, but if they can grab some land based market share the possibility for affordable wireless internet might follow.
    Right now it’s affordable for the 7 figure income crowd… and there are plenty of them.

  2. Mike says:

    having just launched a satellite at the day job (and another coming this next year), i can confirm that i’ve never seen *anything* that bunches the undies quite like that.
    while losing the satellite during launch tears a huge hole in the project schedule, all birds are insured against launch failures, at least enough to replace the bird. but that is scant solace during the last couple of minutes of profuse sweating. Protostar I went on an Ariane 5E which took a while to establish its credibility, so that was in the back of everyone’s minds. The launch did go just fine, but once the solids light, all you can do is watch and hang on for dear life.
    As for Internet via Satellite…
    With the exception of broadcast services like DirecTV where satellites are usually the best choice, satellite communication is a technology of last resort. The paths are long, the delays are large, and it’s all very cranky, especially with a terminal on a boat. But if the choice is *no connectivity*, the satellite link looks pretty good. Compared to terrestrial, though, satellite is very seldom the first choice, if you have a choice.

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