Inmarsat’s share price rose nearly 4% on Wednesday on news that International Airlines Group (IAG) is to be the the launch customer for its European Aviation Network (EAN) high-speed in-flight broadband service.
Rupert Pearce, Inmarsat CEO, said plans for the EAN are on track with the launch of its S-band satellite on an Ariane 5 now planned for the end of June.
Deutsche Telekom is also making “strong and steady progress” with the air-to-ground component network of EAN. He said EAN will be in place to support a planned commercial rollout later this year.
Pearce took part in a Q4 2016 earnings conference call, on the morning of the 8th, saying: “Inmarsat is a very powerful incumbent in the markets we choose to serve, having carved out a very solid core business with material growth potential in the years to come.
“We’re confident that we can meet the challenges and draft the opportunities that lie ahead and deliver sustained increased value to our loyal shareholders.”
He said that the Inmarsat-6 development programme is now well under way, and it is also in a strong position to realign its “L-band capabilities towards new growth opportunities”.
Fourth GX satellite
He said its fourth Ka-band GX satellite, which will launch shortly, will also add in-orbit redundancy.
Pearce said: “I’m obviously frustrated that the launch of GX was serially delayed, first by launch delays that were outside our control, and latterly last year by technical gremlins we should have been better at solving.
“But by the fourth quarter of last year, we finally had all our major GX product platforms in place and commercially launched, the final piece in the puzzle being our in-flight connectivity oriented ‘GX for Aviation’ service.”
Inmarsat says that it has live trialled new technology over the GX network that raises its data speeds from 50Mbps to more than 300Mbps and that it has a funded programme to increase those speeds to more than 500Mbps.
He added it has made good progress on deploying its European Aviation Network (EAN), witnessed by the recent announcement that IAG is to be the launch customer.
Its legacy business and general aviation business now has more than 16,000 aircraft using our SwiftBroadband and Classic Aero products, plus its new SwiftBroadband-Safety service continues to attract interest.
Pearce said it has GX for Aviation mandates from well-known airlines, including Lufthansa, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Air New Zealand and Singapore airlines.
He also said it had an active pipeline in excess of 3,000 aircraft, a number of which are in late stage discussion.
“Get Connected” expects more GX announcements at AIX Hamburg in a few weeks as there seems to have been been a long gestation period for many potential new contracts.
- Go to seekingalpha.com to read the complete earnings call transcript.