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Inmarsat-ORCHESTRA-e3

Technology Update – e3 systems

The yachting summer has turned out much better than we expected, despite how unsure we have all been about being able to travel for work, and for owners and guests to get to their yachts.  Holidaying on yachts is seen as a safe isolation haven.  I am aware of a good number of charter yachts that have had more bookings already than they usually get in the whole season. This is good news for our industry but heavily soured by the “Vaccine Politics” being engendered by various governments.

At the 59th minute of the 11th hour, there has been a sensible reprieve that allows EU double vaccinated citizens to visit the UK without the need to quarantine for ten days when arriving from an amber country.  As a result, I am writing my column early on a Sunday morning having just rounded Ushant on a Brittany Ferry on our way to the UK to visit our families for the first time in 18 months!!  Having been unable to celebrate my elderly mother’s 90th and 91st birthdays plus all the rest of our family’s events, there are many long overdue celebrations to come!

Telenor’s Thor 7 Ka band VSAT - e3

So, let’s put all that aside and talk about technology!!  MV Galicia, the Brittany Ferries vessel on which I am travelling, provides internet connectivity using Telenor’s Thor 7 Ka band VSAT to all the passengers and crew.

This is a regional European service which we also provide to vessels which don’t venture outside the European footprint.  There is only one satellite but when you have a clear view to the sky, as this ship does, it’s a good, high bandwidth, low-cost solution and it works well as our customers know.  In fact this column will be transmitted to Islander HQ using the service.

In my column last month, I recommended that everyone should get ready for the next major sporting event, i.e. the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.  Well, this ship, admittedly is further into the satellite footprint as it is further north and has great British and French coverage Olympic coverage using twin SeaTel TVRO antennas.  The closing ceremony is today, and I certainly didn’t expect to be watching it from a ferry in the Western Approaches.

Inmarsat logo - e3

Inmarsat announce an interesting new communications architecture called ORCHESTRA

Over the last month Inmarsat, the largest UK spacecraft operator, has made a major new announcement that it is getting into the small LEO (Low Earth Orbit) spacecraft game and combining its new LEO with existing large GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit) spacecraft and with 5G on the ground.

This architecture it is calling “Orchestra”, which I think is an inspired name!

“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 (Geostationary Earth Orbit) 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.”

Inmarsat says it will launch about 150 – 175 satellites into Low Earth orbit to augment its existing GEO satellite services. These services are phone and data links to ships, planes, and other users on the move.

As I mentioned in this column last month, there is a rush to low-cost platforms that weigh in the few hundred kilos class such as Elon Musk’s Starlink and the OneWeb service.  It will probably be some years before Starlink will be able to provide a maritime service as they are initially focusing on land-based consumers.

Whereas, with Orchestra, Inmarsat say it is looking to modernise and cement its existing position in the mobility market. It will continue to concentrate its business on the maritime, aviation, broadcast, and government/military sectors.

Also like an Orchestra the different parts will be played in turn. So the new LEO satellites will not come into operation until the second half of this decade, whereas the 5G activity will happen much quicker, in the next two-to-three years.

It envisions one ship in reach of a 5G connection being able to bounce the connection to another vessel still not in view of the terrestrial network.

The new announcement comes as Inmarsat is already engaged in upgrading and expanding its geostationary satellite fleets. It plans to launch a new series of spacecraft that transmits in its traditional L-band frequency, but also can transmit in the higher-frequency Ka-band that its FleetXpress (FX) satellites use.

In addition, two FX spacecraft are shortly planned to go into highly elliptical polar orbits, specifically so they can serve ships crossing the Arctic Ocean.  We have a number of explorer class yachts looking for this service for the North West Passage which we will be an upgrade to our current Inmarsat FX solution.

Nicole McMillan - e3
Nicole McMillan – e3

Meet Nicole McMillan – e3 Systems Europe, Sales Support

Nicole forms part of our Sales Support team and her wide-ranging role ensures she is always multitasking. Her fluent Spanish and great organisational skills mean she is the go-to person when we are dealing with Spanish bureaucracy!

“I moved to Mallorca with my family when I was 11 years old. Growing up in Spain has allowed me to learn a fluent level of Spanish and Mallorquin which has helped me advance both in my career and personal life.

I love Mallorca and the lifestyle it has to offer. I started working at e3 at 25 years old and I am glad to be part of a hard-working team. I have had the chance to work in various departments here and still continue to grow within the company. It´s always challenging, with new products and projects, some harder than others but I love that I can push myself comfortably at e3 to improve my knowledge and expertise.

Progress starts out of the comfort zone, as our Group Deputy Managing Director says.

Besides the company being a busy-productive environment, my colleagues make it enjoyable and fun, which is key to having a successful and very happy work life. I always look forward to coming back to work after the weekend knowing there’s another interesting week ahead with new goals to attain.

Being extremely organized makes providing our clients, potential and existing, the best possible service, from a simple request to a complex order. I pride myself in working hard and fast with a high level of efficiency, which thanks to the support and encouragement from the e3 team, is achievable. Because of this I leave work feeling satisfied and accomplished – so it’s definitely easy to say that e3 is a great place to work.

I am for sure a social butterfly, in and out of our e3 office.  So, I’m often spending my time enjoying everything Mallorca has to offer with family, good friends and my beautiful 2-yearold boy.  Having studied photography, taking pictures, and capturing moments is something I also love doing when I’m out of the office.

Grateful for my e3 family and grateful to be able to call Mallorca my home.”

Roger Horner
e3 Systems – https://e3s.com/
+34 971 404 208
info@e3s.com

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