Intellian, a leader in satellite communications systems for boaters, recently presented to me what I believe will be the next step in marine communications.
It is the new Global Xpress service/partnership between Inmarsat and Intellian, designed to provide worldwide data and voice communications capabilities, including fully functional broadband internet and email functions, to mariners. Inmarsat is a satellite communications service provider focusing on the marine market with its own network of satellites.
Global Xpress is really for heavy commercial and yacht markets, and it’s not even operational yet. Only one satellite is live. Another is up, but not activated yet. The launch of a third sat is delayed because of the recent Russian Proton rocket failure. A fourth is scheduled for launch via SpaceX. The new service needs at least three satellites to be fully functional, though there are some patches Inmarsat has jury-rigged in conjunction with Fleet Broadband.
Intellian has two Global Xpress systems – the GX60 has a 60 cm antenna and the GX100 has a one-meter antenna. The below-deck hardware is all in one compact unit now, making installation simpler than ever. Prices are hefty: the GX60 is $34K, the GX100 is $56K, excluding a subscription to Inmarsat’s Global Xpress satellite service.
While all of this is pie in the sky (excuse the pun) in terms of availability to us regular recreational boaters, I like to think in terms of what it might portend for the future. Prices will eventually drop, perhaps low enough someday that you and I might consider a global communications system for our boats. If that day comes, it will be a double-edged sword. The good news: We will always be connected. The bad news? We will always be connected.