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An agreement signed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Inmarsat brings the reality of reliable mobile broadband communications services a step closer, the ESA says.

Global mobile broadband services will be available for those at sea, in the air or on land with the new Broadband Global Area Network System (BGAN), to be offered by the Inmarsat I-4 satellite constellation.

Following the launch of the first of the 4th generation Inmarsat satellites in 2004, BGAN is expected to become operational for land services in 2005. The new system will meet the growing demand from business and private users for high-speed internet access and multimedia connectivity, as well as a wide range of teleservices, such as teleworking and distance learning.

Applications will include Internet and intranet access, video on demand, web TV, videoconferencing and LAN access at speeds of up to 432 kbit/s to notebook-sized terminals. The BGAN system will also be compatible with 3G cellular terrestrial systems, according to ESA.

A number of companies are involved in this agreement. EMS Satcom Ltd. (UK) is in charge of developing the aeronautical mobile platforms, Logica CMG (UK) oversees the multicast service-centre development, and the Norwegian company NERA ASA will develop maritime platforms. ®

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