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Inmarsat set to further tap potentials of ME segments

Abdul Basit / 15 January 2012

DUBAI Leading global satellite communications services provider Inmarsat said the Middle East is one of the important markets for the company and a key area of growth, according to chief executive officer Rupert Pearce.

Since 1979, Inmarsat has been providing reliable voice and high-speed data communications to governments, enterprises and other organisations, with a range of services that can be used on land, at sea or in the air.

“I think the maritime market is a big piece of business here. It’s a huge community in the Middle East,” Pearce told Khaleej Times during his recent visit to Dubai after taking charge as CEO.

He previously served as senior vice-president of Inmarsat Enterprises and Inmarsat’s Group General Counsel, and has been with the company for six years.

He mentioned that commercial aviation in the region is growing fast because of innovation in airline industry and top regional airlines are Inmarsat customers including UAE-based Emirates airline and Etihad.

“Another area [that] is growing extremely quickly in the region… [is the] commercial aviation business,” he said, adding that all innovation in the industry is coming out of the Middle East and Asia, particularly from the market’s top airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines.

Customers on Emirates’ Airbus A380s can now surf the Internet, share content, e-mail and tweet as the airline launched Wi-Fi Internet connectivity from OnAir via Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband.

The Wi-Fi in the sky service can be accessed by passengers using their Wi-Fi-enabled devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops.

He said aeronautics is generally 15 per cent of Inmarsat’s revenue that includes both civil and government segments.

“Commercial aviation is relatively modest in terms of its revenue generation,” he said, adding that it comes from business jets connectivity and passenger aircraft connectivity.

He mentioned that the enterprise market in the region is also huge and Al Jazeera TV is very good example of local customer.

“We are very proud of our association with Al Jazeera,” Pearce added.

The company’s revenues recorded tremendous growth in the last seven years, and it sees opportunities for further growth in next five years, he said, adding: “New markets are incredible opportunities for us.”

Revenues from military and governments are 20 per cent and half of that comes from the US, he said, pointing out that it increased significantly counting non-US markets as well.

“We are fourth generation and fifth generation is fully funded. We are well funded for future plans, which is very important nowadays,” he said.

He said last year’s capital expenditure, or capex, was at a record $700 million and this year the company will continue to invest same amount in capex to add to its global reach.

The company announced a 20 per cent growth in its revenue for the first six months of 2011 in interim results last year. Total revenue was reported at $682.9 million, compared to $570.7 million in the first six months in 2010. For the year ended December 31, 2010, Inmarsat had a total revenue of $1.17 billion, compared to $1.04 billion in 2009.


As of January 1, the company consolidated its subsidiaries into a single new organisational structure designed to align Inmarsat’s business more closely with the needs of customers in its core markets.

As part of the reorganisation, all companies in the Inmarsat group — including Stratos Global, Segovia and Ship Equip — will now use the brand name Inmarsat.

Inmarsat Solutions, led by Jim Parm, will operate through four new market-facing business units which include Maritime, Government US, Government Global and Inmarsat Enterprise.

The new business units will be supported by a new group, Commercial Services & Support, which will provide cross-business unit services such as customer support, product and service management, channel development, commercial management and marketing communications.

Despite the new organisational structure Inmarsat says it does not intend to change its policy of distributing its services primarily through independent channel partners, comprised of its network of distribution partners and service providers.

The company’s services are delivered through a global network of more than 400 distribution partners and service providers operating in 100 countries.

Volvo Ocean Race

Inmarsat’s FleetBroadband communication service has revolutionised the Volvo Ocean Race which was in Abu Dhabi until yesterday, when the boats leave to race to China.

The technology, called Azzam, is now onboard all boats, including those in the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. It brings every moment of the race to fans, sponsors and the media in high definition TV and 24/7.

Inmarsat technology is right at the heart of the race with its award winning voice, data and safety services providing essential global communications onboard these extreme racing yachts.

Each Volvo Open 70 race boat is fitted with a FleetBroadband 500 terminal, delivering voice and high-speed data communications.

Competitors in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 will be the first sailors with access to the new red button safety service on FleetBroadband, giving instant one-touch contact with maritime rescue coordination centres.

Also onboard will be a compact FleetBroadband 150 for crew voice calling and IP data, two Mini-C systems for constant positioning data and additional global safety communications.

In addition, the race is endorsing IsatPhone Pro, Inmarsat’s new global satellite phone, by including it in the boats’ safety kits.



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