Currently, only 40 percent of the 60,000-80,000 large ships worldwide enjoy satellite communications
. Just one percent of yachts and fishing boats have such capabilities. Five million small boats in coastal and inland waters mostly rely on fragmented terrestrial cellular coverage.
ICO Global Communications is scheduled to begin launching its satellites later this year and will initiate affordable global mobile communications services
(digital voice, data, and fax) in August 2000. The company will provide 100 percent global coverage and will offer a line of rugged, water-resistant, simple-to-install user terminals designed for all segments of the marine industry by such manufacturers as Nera, JRC and Furuno.
What allows ICO to stand apart from other global mobile communications companies are its:
· INMARSAT heritage, which provides ICO with years of experience and expertise serving the communications needs of the marine industry.
· Next-generation compact, affordable handheld and mounted single-channel products being designed by leading marine manufacturers NERA, Furuno, and JRC.
· Competitive airtime charges that, for the first time, will make global mobile communications services a viable option for millions of marine users.
· Established distribution channels including INMARSAT and other leading service providers.
· Industry-first medium Earth orbiting (MEO) satellite constellation, which enhances reliability, coverage, and cost-effectiveness. ICO's constellation will circle the Earth in a higher orbit than those of other service providers, creating the need for fewer satellites. This will dramatically reduce deployment and maintenance costs.
· Complete ownership of ICONET (the company's network), which includes 12 Earth stations interconnected by fiber-optic links, combined with its constellation of 12 medium Earth orbiting (MEO) satellites. This advantage helps ICO adjust more rapidly to user needs, ensure a high level of reliability, and gain greater control over user communications costs.