In November 2014, Inmarsat transitioned its GSPS (IsatPhone) services in the Europe-Middle-East-Africa (EMEA) region from its I-4 F2 satellite to its new Alphasat satellite. On March 24, 2015, Inmarsat also transitioned its EMEA FleetBroadband and BGAN services to Alphasat.
This transition enhanced Inmarsat services in the EMEA region and left Inmarsat with a satellite through which it could potentially create a fourth region serving the Middle East and Asia (MEAS).

Notice that Inmarsat adjusted its coverage to reduce overlapping between the three major satellites. Users in the regions that originally had overlapping coverage from two satellites, now are left with only one satellite -- and that satellite can be fairly low on the horizon.

Outfitter Satellite has already heard from users that are impacted. One user with an Inmarsat BGAN near Mt. Everest could originally choose between the I-4 EMEA satellite and the I-4 Asia-Pacific satellite. Now that same user is limited to the I-4 Asia-Pacific satellite. Unfortunately, our client's base camp near Mt. Everest cannot access the I-4 Asia-Pacific satellite because it is blocked by the mountain itself.

If you are an Inmarsat BGAN or GSPS user with a similar story, please let us know by commenting on this blog. We will pass the information along to Inmarsat.

Impact of the Alphasat Transition: What Actions Do Existing Inmarsat Users Need To Take?

For most Inmarsat users, this transition will require little or no action, but some users will be impacted. If you are using Inmarsat services in the EMEA region or were previously covered by the EMEA satellite but now only have access to the Americans or Asia-Pacific satellites, here are some actions you should take:
  • All users with BGAN land terminals should upgrade to the latest version of LaunchPad. LaunchPad version 5.07 for Windows 7/XP can be downloaded by clicking here. This version of LaunchPad has the Alphasat coverage map integrated into it. Older versions of LaunchPad are compatible with Alphasat but will display the old I-4 F2 coverage.
    • Fixed-site land-based BGAN terminals may need to repoint their antennas. In particular, users in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal that had used the original I-4 F2 (EMEA region) satellite need to repoint their antennas to the Asia-Pacific satellite.
    • All land terminals in Brazil, which accessed Inmarsat services via the I-4 F2 satellite will need to repoint their antennas to the I-4 Americas satellite.
    • IsatPhone PRO and IsatPhone 2 handheld satellite phone users do not need to take any special action, except to realize that some areas that previously had overlapping coverage by two satellites now are served by only one satellite. This is particularly important in mountainous regions like Nepal where terrain masking could more easily block access to the remaining satellite.