Inmarsat Maritime Partners with Aramco to Trial World-First Over Water 5G Mesh Network

(Image credit: Inmarsat Maritime)

Inmarsat Maritime, a Viasat company, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Aramco, a global integrated energy and chemicals company, to undertake a 5G “mesh” network trial that aims to provide high-bandwidth connectivity for Aramco’s offshore work in the Arabian Gulf.

The technology is designed to provide high-speed communication capabilities while meeting the demands of the region’s climate – including extreme heat, sandstorms, wind and water evaporation – thanks to 5G’s improved reliability in challenging weather conditions.

The MoU follows successful outdoor network testing in Rutland Water, UK, in February 2024, which demonstrated reliable and high throughput millimeter Wave (mmWave) signal propagation over water.

Further testing of the 5G mobile Integrated Access and Backhaul (mIAB) network and of Inmarsat Maritime’s specific developments will be conducted under the extreme weather conditions of the Arabian Gulf later this year. The testing of Inmarsat Maritime’s 5G mesh in the Arabian Gulf with Aramco aims to showcase world-first long-range, high-throughput mIAB deployment over the sea – far beyond the maximum 1km range previously possible.

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(Image credit: Inmarsat Maritime)

The technology has the potential to allow Aramco to optimize its offshore operations via the 5G mesh and enable capabilities such as intelligent remote maintenance and remote operations. This will include monitoring and metering with IoT sensors, assisted operations for staff equipped with augmented reality headsets, novel safety and security features and potential for cost saving and efficient energy use.

Inmarsat Maritime’s advanced ground infrastructure offers inbuilt cybersecurity and data protection. Ships operating further from the shore will be able to supplement ground-based 5G with satellite coverage, thanks to Inmarsat Maritime’s bonded network solution, which is already onboard more than 14,000 vessels worldwide.

Ben Palmer OBE, President, Inmarsat Maritime, said: “Our technologies provide the ingredients for a truly bespoke solution, and our exciting new partnership with Aramco is the latest example of this. This new 5G mesh technology will be a significant step in helping Aramco maximize site efficiency, improve sustainability, provide a better experience for crew and protect the business from cyber-attacks. By combining many proven technologies into one integrated ecosystem, our bonded network is a single solution that can meet all customer demands – no matter how challenging the environment.”

Nabil Al-Nuaim, Sr. VP Digital & Information Technology, Aramco said: “By extending high speed connectivity to our remote and harsh offshore sites through 5G mesh technology, we aim to accelerate our plans to deploy advanced use cases under the corporate digital transformation vision. This is expected to help us further optimize our operations and improve the work environment for our operators. Our collaboration with Viasat to run the first maritime trial in the world for 5G mesh technology is a testament to our commitment to develop and deploy advanced technologies. Working with technology leaders and capitalizing on our operational experience in the field are key components for successful technology developments.”

About 5G Mesh

Inmarsat Maritime’s 5G mesh is a 5G mobile Integrated Access and Backhaul (mIAB) system operating in millimeter Wave (mmWave 3GPP 5G FR2), and fully integrated with Viasat network. The 5G mesh network offers high throughput and is intelligently orchestrated by Viasat network management solutions with Viasat SDN controller and Viasat SD-WAN solution. These network management solutions allow to leverage 5G mesh topology management and back-up connectivity with Viasat’s satellite systems to ensure service continuity. The service works in full compliance with 3GPP and beneficiating from the growing ecosystem driving innovation.

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