Inmarsat sees strong SBB growth; eyes I-5 network

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Inmarsat's fastest-growing aeronautical service, SwiftBroadband (SBB), is moving from strength to strength, with 800 channels of the 432kbit/s service now activated on aircraft operating worldwide.

The company, which held its annual Inmarsat Aeronautical Conference in San Francisco this week, revealed it is experiencing an average growth of 50 new channels per month for SBB.

The SBB service is operated over L-band satellites, known as the Inmarsat-4 network. In the commercial sector, SBB supports in-flight connectivity solutions on offer by Airbus/SITA joint venture OnAir and Telenor subsidiary AeroMobile.

During this week's conference, Inmarsat chief operating officer Perry Melton told delegates that the the I-4 network is performing well. However, he said the UK firm is now looking towards an I-5 network, and that while it cannot announce anything official yet, unofficially it is looking at the "K" band, which is understood to refer to the Ka-band.

A decision is expected to be made by Inmarsat later this year.