MOBILE satellite communications provider, Inmarsat, has completed its 10,000th Fleet Xpress ship installation.

The company has also launched a new Fleet Data Academy with existing partners, shipowners and operators to support the full understanding and adoption of the rapidly growing range of digital applications in the maritime industry.

Strong customer growth has seen Inmarsat report average daily download rates through Fleet Xpress of around 8GB as of December 2020. This compares to less than 4 GB in mid-2020.

Ronald Spithout, president, Inmarsat Maritime said, “The Fleet Xpress service with unlimited back-up continues to provide shipping’s gold standard for seamless, mobile broadband.

“We are now entering a Fleet Xpress 2.0 era as it moves way beyond a connectivity pipe, and becomes a true digital platform with our Fleet Data service now integrated as part of Fleet Xpress.

“This makes access to an ecosystem of applications and value-added services available on demand,” he said.

Inmarsat will also launch a series of incentives over the coming weeks to celebrate the significant milestone.

The installation landmark was reached during the same month as Inmarsat’s most powerful satellite to date entered service, with GX5 joining the only globally available high-speed mobile broadband network delivered by a single operator.

GX5 provides additional capability to maritime customers of Fleet Xpress in Europe and the Middle East and delivers approximately double the combined capacity of the entire existing GX fleet (GX1-GX4).

“COVID-19 has brought a major spike in data demand for crew connectivity and our Fleet Hotspot wi-fi solution has gained exceptional traction, but the arrival of Fleet Data as maritime’s first secure and scalable Internet of Things platform has also been pivotal,” said Mr Spithout.

“Using cloud-based data storage and interfacing easily with decision-making software, this has moved Fleet Xpress to a 2.0 solution. This also delivers fully on the promise of smart shipping, fully-scalable for vessel operators, making maritime accessible for start-up application providers just as it is for established corporates.”

Maritime digitalisation is now “unstoppable” according to Mr Spithout.

“The market is becoming mature enough to support its own digital ecosystem with separate bandwidth channels for crew, applications and operations.

“Our recent experience in offering Fleet Data as integral to Fleet Xpress at no additional cost suggests that, once owners get a taste of what is on offer, they quickly recognise its value and the benefits of using our ecosystem of partners.

“In the coming months we will continue this in partnership with our wholesale and retail partners,” he said.

Inmarsat’s fully-funded technology roadmap sees a further seven satellite launches over the next four years, with two in highly elliptical orbit to deliver the world’s only commercial Arctic mobile broadband service.

“We believe that reliable, seamless connectivity with a platform such as Fleet Xpress is now more vital than ever and will play a crucial role in the accelerated adoption of digital technology as the world emerges from COVID-19,” said Mr Spithout.