Intelsat, the world’s largest commercial satellite operator, has announced the successful launch of its Intelsat 34 satellite (IS 34) from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 vehicle. The satellite was launched at 8:34 pm GMT and separated from its rocket 40 minutes later. Signal acquisition has been confirmed. spoke with James Collet, Intelsat’s head of mobility, about the launch and what it brings to the superyacht community as well as Intelsat’s new EpicNG satellite technology.

“In recent years we have been building a global broadband infrastructure to support maritime communications and the satellite that launched yesterday evening, IS 34, is an important part of that jigsaw,” starts Collet. “This satellite gives us total coverage of the North Atlantic and allows us to support broadband communications all the way from Europe, through Panama and up the West Cost of the United States.”

Satellites, Collet explains, have a natural in-orbit life of around 15 years. IS 34 has replaced the Intelsat 805 and Galaxy 11, becoming the third Intelsat satellite in the Latin America, pan-regional video distribution neighbourhood - which also includes IS 11 and IS 21.

Intelsat mobility map

“But what we have done with this satellite in this particular orbital location is to add a large ‘mobility beam’ – this is a very large coverage beam that spans from Europe across the Atlantic and along the western US. This provides additional capacity to supply broadband services to the superyacht industry,” continues Collet. “We now have a footprint for our satellite coverage which covers all the major shipping routes and all the main superyacht locations.”

In the first quarter of 2016 Intelsat will begin to overlay – on top of the global broadband network it already has – some satellites with very high bandwidth capability. These new satellites are generically referred to as high through put satellites; but Intelsat’s trade name for them is ‘EpicNG satellites’.

“We will launch our first EpicNG satellite in Q1 of 2016, we will launch six of these before the end of 2019 and these satellites will bring significantly more bandwidth and therefore speed and capability to the remote user – the maritime user – in comparison to what has gone before. These satellites typically have more than 10 times the capacity of previous models,” explains Collet. From a superyacht perspective, these satellites will be deployed for areas that require bolstered broadband services, such as the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. 

IS 34 launch

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