Inmarsat launches Fleet LTE service in the North Sea
Inmarsat, the world leader in global mobile satellite communications, will extend its service portfolio for customers with the launch of Fleet LTE, following an agreement with subsea fibre and offshore LTE network operator, Tampnet. The new service which is primarily aimed at offshore support vessel operators, but could also be used by fishing and ferry operators operating in the area, leverages low-latency, high data speed communications available via a dedicated Access Point Name (APN) on the Tampnet North Sea LTE network and could be extended to other regions such as the Gulf of Mexico if successful. Inmarsat’s new Fleet LTE service means customers can access high speed 4G, Fleet Xpress maritime VSAT Ka-band and continuous L-band connectivity within a single, fully managed hybrid package. “Inmarsat is a leader in a market that has significant untapped potential for Tampnet’s premium LTE services, and we are really pleased to add such a great company to our list of partners,” said Tampnet CEO, Per Helge Svensson. “Inmarsat provide services to large fleets of offshore vessels that fall in our LTE network footprint. The North Sea is a natural starting point, but we are also keen to explore how we can work with Inmarsat in other regions where Tampnet is present such as the Gulf of Mexico.”. The unique ‘three-in-one’ offer delivers 4G and VSAT Ka-band and L-band without the complication of dual billing or the risk of connectivity drop-off. “As demand for data continues to grow, especially in the realm of high-stakes decision-making where real time action is needed, such as for remotely operated vehicles or securing details on seabed conditions, low-latency LTE bandwidth and satellite connectivity play crucial roles,” said Eric Griffin, VP of Offshore and Fishing, Inmarsat Maritime. Agreeing its own APN means Inmarsat can guarantee customers access to LTE services enabled via Tampnet’s 3,000km subsea fibre network. “Being able to exploit business-critical decision-making tools helps operators to cut non-productive operational time,” adds Griffin. Inmarsat Fleet LTE is available in a range of service bands that deliver data speeds of up to 40 Mbps with Round Trip Delay of around 35-40ms. However, when LTE is not available, services automatically switch over to Ka-band Fleet Xpress committed information rates, with continuous back-up from L-band FleetBroadband. Meanwhile, connectivity via FleetBroadband continues even outside the LTE coverage area. Service transition between LTE and VSAT is fully automated, with routing depending on data needs and network conditions, while vessels only need to add two LTE antenna and a modem on deck to enable the upgrade, which can be rented or purchased. “Inmarsat Fleet LTE also comes without hidden costs and offers owners plan flexibility to support business demand from third parties,” said Griffin. “Owners can choose from various LTE plans up to 40 Mbps, upgrade and downgrade between packages without additional fees, and choose separated dedicated bandwidth plans for charterers.” Inmarsat continuously seeks network solutions that best serve its customer base; recovering offshore market conditions have been persuasive in driving the value-added LTE proposition. “As a service provider also offering failsafe connectivity via L-band for reasons of maritime safety, guaranteeing resiliency and performance whether vessels are on station or moving to/from shore are first principles for Inmarsat,” Griffin comments.