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Inmarsat, Vizada eye RP mining sector

Posted on: February 24, 2009

By Anna Valmero
First Posted 11:01:00 10/17/2008

Filed Under: Satellite technology, Technology (general)

MANILA, Philippines — Two mobile satellite communications giants are eyeing the local mining industry as their next key market for expansion and solutions deployment.

Business Monitor International said in a study the Philippine mining sector will grow by 6.4 percent from 2008 to 2012 and will hit $9 billion in 2011.

Realizing the potential for inroads in the segment, satellite communications company Inmarsat together with its distribution and terrestrial infrastructure partner Vizada have introduced the Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service to executives from the local mining sector. The service is seen as an alternative to the mobile needs of mining activities, especially mining site exploration.

Vivian Quenet, Vizada area manager for Southeast Asia and Pacific, Japan and Korea, said the Philippines with its geography makes it a challenging environment for seamless communication between on-site and off-site teams involved in mining exploration.

“A satellite communications-based solution addresses this concern,” said Noemie de Rozieres, account manager at Inmarsat.

She cited as example how BGAN can be useful for teams of geophysicists, geologists and engineers who need to travel light and who also need to log and transmit scientific readings and precise GPS content in form of data, images and audio/voice.

Application can extend to situations requiring remote mobility and emergency communication as in the case of hospital emergencies and strong typhoons.

De Rozieres said BGAN redefines remote connectivity by providing mobile workers a one-box solution that deliver voice and broadband data simultaneously even in the remotest of places.

By relying on satellites to transmit and receive data packets, BGAN can allow rates up to half a megabit even when the user is making a phone call. The executive claimed the technology has no compatibility issues with local telco networks because the device connects directly to the satellite.

Currently, Inmarsat has launched 11 satellites, three of which are fourth generation systems. Since the launch of the third Inmarsat-4 satellite in August, the company has started repositioning the satellites to optimize network coverage.

By February 2009, the three satellites will cover 95 percent of the earth (both sea and landmass), with only the two poles left uncovered—a big leap from the 85 percent landmass coverage attained by the two fourth-gen satellites.

De Rozieres said this also makes the technology far better than GSM networks which cover only 10 percent of the earth’s landmass.

De Rozieres said they have teamed up with the European Space Agency to become the commercial operator of Alphasat set to launch in 2012. Alphasat can supplement the existing Inmarsat-4 satellites by providing additional L-Band spectrum access over Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

“Currently, there are 22,000 BGAN terminals deployed worldwide—a big market considering that we are a niche player,” said De Rozieres.

The BGAN service paves way for real-time and on-going seamless connection while reducing overhead costs for communication, travel and security, said Inmarsat solutions development manager Ng Guan Soon who provided a demo of BGAN’s capabilities.

During the demo, BGAN was used to provide standard IP services like e-mail and Internet access, streaming IP of up to 256 kbps rates, as well as 3G phone calls and SMS sending from computer to handset and vice versa. The application platforms on which the services run were developed by Vizada.

In Asia-Pacific, Inmarsat has poured $1.5 billion for the launch along of the third Inmarsat-4 satellite. It has also invested $ .5 million (Singapore) to support its local partners in Asia.

For the Philippines, Inmarsat and Vizada are engaging in awareness campaigns so target markets can identify the benefits of the technology. During the product presentation, de Rozieres said they received strong interest and queries from the local participants.

Together with local partner NeraTel, Inmarsat and Vizada provided a hands-on training on BGAN, October 14-16. The training workshops coincided with the 8th Asia Pacific Mining Conference and Exhibition, where both Inmarsat and Vizada were exhibitors.

Inmarsat also provides solutions for the maritime sector with its FleetBroadband service as well as oil and gas, aeronautical, NGOs, as well as environmental and engineering markets.


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