Inmarsat Aviation is confident its “measured” approach of adding satellite capacity where and when it is required to meet growing demand for in-flight connectivity will drown out the “noisier claims” made by some of its rivals.

During last year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo,Flight Daily Newsreported on a spat between ViaSat and Inmarsat, in which the former claimed its planned ViaSat-3 satellite would provide significantly more capacity than the satellites used by Inmarsat for its recently launched Global Xpress (GX) connectivity service.

In an interview withFDNahead of this year’s show, Inmarsat Aviation president Leo Mondale cautioned against jumping the gun and investing in the addition of what could turn out to be unnecessary satellite capacity, and instead advocated a more “measured” and “sensible” approach.

“We’re not in the school of players that say ‘we know what the market is going to need’,” says Mondale, noting that adding too much capacity too soon is “a dangerous way to go”.

“We’ve deployed a global coverage layer – it’s complete and it’s working. We will increase capacity to reflect the requirements of a given airline customer by allocating capacity from our resources in orbit, or by designing additional capacity,” says Mondale. “This allows us to grow relatively closely aligned to the growth in demand.”

The in-flight connectivity market is “dominated by noisy claims”, says Mondale, adding: “We’re trying to demonstrate by doing, not by claiming and talking.”

Inmarsat’s first airline customer for GX, Lufthansa, has soft-launched the Ka-band connectivity service and it is now available to passengers flying on “multiple tens of aircraft”. Inmarsat is “still doing the final debugging” and expects the German airline to switch over from trial to paid-for commercial GX service “in the coming weeks”.

After seven years of preparations, Inmarsat’s message on GX as it heads into this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo is: “Let’s go, let’s do it,” says Mondale.

“We first made the decision to go down the broadband route with GX in 2010 and it’s been a monster in terms of size, complexity and scope…. We’ve done what we said we would do and we now have a service that’s noticeably different to what came before [in terms of] speed, ease of connection and consistency of service.”

Inmarsat expects to make some further GX customer announcements during the show.

“We’re very confident in our pipeline and there is a lot of momentum building,” says Mondale.

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Source: Flight Daily News