Alphasat Ground and User Segment and Applications

Objectives

The Alphasat Ground and User Segment and Applications programme aims at exploiting the enhanced performances of the Alphasat satellite. This programme element covers the development of new services and features on the Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) and Global Satellite Phone Service (GSPS) systems, which will be supported using the Alphasat satellite and provided to mobile institutional, public and private users on a pan-European scale.

Challenges

The activities that were started in 2009 with Inmarsat include general Alphasat service and system requirements definition and preliminary design activities; and the development of core functionalities for safety and emergency communication services for maritime, aeronautical and land-vehicular environments.  In addition, the programme has been instrumental to the development of new user terminals. New low-gain terminals will benefit from the Alphasat satellite extended L-band coverage and its improved power and sensitivity performance. The introduction of Alphasat also provides a great opportunity to increase the maximum bit rate for BGAN high gain terminals through the use of higher order modulation schemes together with bonding of multiple transceivers operating over multiple BGAN channels. Other activities in the programme have been focused on the development of advanced IP-based value added data services like the multi-voice service, data telemetry service or data services based on IPv6, enhancing the security of the communications over BGAN. Finally, the programme covered the development of applications, which provide an end-to-end communication solution for specific user needs.

Benefits

User communities will greatly benefit from the advent of the new applications or integrated solutions to be developed in the frame of ARTES 8, which aim at covering user needs through the development of mobile satellite communication solutions provided by Alphasat.
Examples of these new services are the advanced safety services like Inmarsat’s Voice Distress service, which immediately connects a seafaring vessel in distress to a maritime rescue centre; or Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband Oceanic Safety Service that provides voice and broadband safety data applications to the aircraft cockpit.

The programme has achieved the development of services aiming at improving crew’s life conditions at sea. The introduction of simultaneous voice communications over Inmarsat’s maritime service is an example. The service allows simultaneous communications from different terminals on vessels, separating personal communications from the cabins and professional communications from the bridge.

Features

The programme supports the development of new user terminal classes within the Inmarsat service portfolio, the necessary developments in the service segment which are needed to support the new services and the enhanced performances introduced by the advanced mobile payload embarked on-board the Alphasat satellite.

Plan

The workplan for the Ground and User Segment and Applications programme contains a set of activities defined together with Inmarsat for the exploitation of the Alphasat as well as the global Inmarsat 4 satellite constellation.

Current status

The initial core activities have been performed successfully in the frame of the ARTES 8 programme, with several key activities completed in June 2012, and most ongoing work related to the maritime safety data service and the SwiftBroadband safety service planned to be completed by early 2014.

New activities related to the key areas of the ARTES8-IV programme, still to be proposed or under evaluation, will now be handled under the ARTES  3-4 programme element. Any Industry interested in submitting a proposal is invited to refer to the ARTES 3-4 web pages