Inmarsat has revealed its plans for Orchestra, which it is billing as ‘the communications network of the future’. Orchestra will bring together existing geosynchronous (GEO) satellites, low earth orbit satellites (LEO) and terrestrial 5G, into an integrated, high-performance network with low latency, fast speeds and resilience. The initial five-year (2021-2026) total investment for Orchestra is expected to be in the order of US$100 million.
The network is designed to meet evolving connectivity needs in the mobility market, whether aviation, maritime or defence, with a service Inmarsat says will be “unmatched by any competitor offering, planned or in existence”. For aviation, Orchestra could enable direct-to-cloud connections for airlines, while new segments set to benefit from the network include mid-market business aircraft, and urban air mobility.
How it works
Inmarsat’s existing GEO satellites – both GX and L-band – will continue to provide global coverage, high performance, security and resilience. The terrestrial 5G then adds ultra-high capacity in busy ‘hot spots’ such as airports, ports and sea canals. A small constellation of LEO satellites will then layer additional high capacity over further high-demand areas such as oceanic flight corridors.
The network will benefit from ‘dynamic mesh’ technology, which allows individual customer terminals to direct traffic to and from other customer terminals. For example, a ship within reach of a 5G ground station could receive sufficient capacity for its own needs, as well as route capacity onwards to other vessels beyond terrestrial reach. This effectively creates a mobile web of terminals that extend the network’s reach and improve its performance and resilience.
“An orchestra brings different instruments together, each supporting the other and playing its role in the masterpiece. We’re building Orchestra on the same concept,” said Rajeev Suri, CEO of Inmarsat. “By combining the distinct qualities of GEO, LEO and 5G into a single network, we will deliver a service that is far greater than the sum of its parts. Our customers will benefit from dramatically expanded high-throughput services around the world. This is the future of connectivity.”
Suri added that Inmarsat plans to focus initially on delivering the Orchestra terrestrial network, while preparing for a future LEO constellation in the range of 150-175 satellites.