Global mobile satellite communications provider Inmarsat has awarded a contact for an additional Global Xpress satellite and revealed Qatar Airways had become the first Middle East megacarrier to select the new GX Aviation in-flight broadband solution.
Inmarsat said it had awarded the new GX satellite contract to Thales Alenia Space.
Inmarsat said the award reflected its strategy of adding capacity to its already established, unique, high-speed global broadband network in areas of high customer demand and against new customer commitments.
It said the satellite, which was targeted for launch in 2019, would be a Very High Throughput Satellite (V-HTS), providing capacity across the Middle East, Europe and the Indian subcontinent.
The payload would seamlessly become part of Inmarsat's existing GX high-speed global broadband network.
Inmarsat also announced that Qatar Airways had become the first Middle East megacarrier to select the group's advanced new GX Aviation in-flight broadband solution. Inmarsat said the next-generation service would initially be available to Qatar Airways passengers on board more than 130 aircraft, consisting of Airbus A350s and Boeing 777s.
It said GX Aviation technology had already been equipped on Qatar Airways' latest Airbus A350s and installations on the airline's remaining Airbus A350s, together with the Boeing 777s, would commence on a retrofit basis from this summer.
Inmarsat Aviation president Leo Mondale said: "Qatar Airways is one of the world's most successful, fastest growing and in-demand airlines, with an unwavering focus on providing the best service possible.
"It has offered Inmarsat's SwiftBroadband connectivity solution for over five years now. However, with our next generation GX Aviation service now live, its upgrade to true broadband on more than 130 aircraft initially will ensure passengers have access to consistent, reliable and high-speed connectivity wherever they fly.
"Qatar Airways considered all available options in the connectivity market and selected Inmarsat due to our unique infrastructure, proven aerospace partners, and committed long-term development strategy.
"Broadband transformation on the ground is already well advanced and we are able to transfer that into the very challenging in-flight environment, working with Qatar Airways to make connectivity a success.
"Our networks are engineered with multiple layers for redundancy and global coverage. Our design philosophy is to scale up capacity over time to fit the route systems of our airline customers and reflect the industry's real needs."