Inmarsat announced that it is to expand its FleetBroadband family to offer an entry-level, globally deployable, combined voice and data service targeted at small vessels. The new service, FB150, will deliver voice, IP data up to 150kbps and SMS, and is planned to be available by mid-2009.
Inmarsat has developed the new service to address the needs of smaller leisure, fishing and commercial vessels with lower data requirements than the high performance FB250 and FB500. FB150 will offer a voice connection at landline quality, accessible simultaneously with internet-capable IP data and simple-to-use SMS. The first manufacturers of FB150 hardware will be Thrane & Thrane and AddValue, which is partnering with SpaceCom for antenna production.
FB150 hardware costs and service charges will be priced competitively for the target markets. "Inmarsat and the FB150 manufacturers are committed to ensuring the terminal pricing will address the needs of the sub-$5000 hardware sector," said Piers Cunningham, Head of Maritime Business at Inmarsat. "Owners of smaller vessels want to explore the benefits of internet access through FleetBroadband's IP data capability, and they want a service that is priced accordingly. FB150 will address these requirements in a package suitable for use onboard smaller maritime platforms."
The FB150 above-deck antenna unit, as with the FB250, will be highly compact and easy to install. The below decks unit will be similarly scaled and offer standard interfaces to allow quick and easy connection to PCs and 'off the shelf' peripheral services. "The contractual arrangements between Inmarsat and the manufacturers include specific and significant schedule performance incentives. We are confident that compact, reliable and highly-capable terminals will be in the marketplace by the middle of next year," he said.