The fixed-price contract, with options, calls for three 702HP commercial spacecraft with 89 Ka-band beams that will operate in geosynchronous orbit.
The new satellite series, called Inmarsat-5 will enable Inmarsat to provide a global high-speed mobile broadband service.
With operations expected to start in 2014, Inmarsat-5 will support a next-generation global service, Global Xpress, which will target a $1.4bn (£0.9bn) incremental market opportunity in VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) services.
According to Inmarsat, Global Xpress will address the established, growing markets for VSAT services in the maritime, energy and government sectors, with further growth potential in developing markets such as the aeronautical sector.
Inmarsat estimates that the total cost of Inmarsat-5 and Global Xpress will be $1.2bn over 4.5 years, incorporating the fixed cost of the satellites, plus the cost of additional ground network infrastructure, product development, launch services and insurance.
‘With the Global Xpress network, we will be the first operator to offer global mobile broadband coverage, offering unparalleled speeds and bandwidth to customers in remote locations around the world,’ said Andrew Sukawaty, chairman and chief executive of Inmarsat. ‘Global Xpress will be faster and less expensive than current Ku-band market offerings, delivered to smaller and cheaper terminals and be the first offered on a global, end-to-end basis.
‘Picture 50MB/s services to a ship or aircraft and 10MB/s to an antenna the size of an iPad.’
In a separate arrangement, Boeing has also entered into a distribution partnership with Inmarsat to provide L- and Ka-band capacity to key users within the US government.