Mobile satellite innovations in response to COVID-19

Rupert Pearce Covid

The global COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced something that the ICT community long has known: reliable connectivity is essential to the effective functioning of the modern digital society, and even more so during times of crisis. The increased emphasis on services such as telework, telemedicine, and remote education has highlighted the urgency of closing the digital divide.  Satellite broadband providers are on the forefront of this endeavour, already providing robust connectivity to people around the world today, even in the most challenging environments.

Critical connectivity needs outside the reach of fixed broadband networks also have grown as a result of the novel coronavirus.  That is why Inmarsat is proud to take steps to ensure that mobile satellite services (MSS) remain accessible for the essential workers and emergency responders that rely upon them in the majority of the world that is not served by terrestrial networks, including on land, in the air, and at sea.  Here are a couple examples of the steps we are taking to ensure that users are able to rely on our connectivity solutions for vital safety and humanitarian services, and to keep the arteries of global trade flowing.

Support for Aid and NGO Sector

Inmarsat is providing enhanced support to the vital aid and NGO sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.  These organisations are at the forefront of the medical response, supporting health services through telemedicine in remote or developing areas. Elsewhere, the impact of the disease has caused impacts to the wider economy and to people’s day-to-day lives, which are being addressed through the work of NGOs, such as distributing food and other resources. COVID-19 is also adding increasing complexity to the daily operations for aid and NGO organisations as they respond to unrelated-crises, such as natural disasters or humanitarian events, causing remote connectivity to be more critical than ever.

Aid organisations rely upon MSS communications in support of COVID-19 relief operations.  For example, Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) has deployed satellite equipment to facilitate the coordination of  COVID-19 response in Mozambique.  With land-based networks unreliable in parts of the country, this satellite connectivity promotes the safety and efficacy of relief work.  To further assist aid organisations, Inmarsat’s new initiatives include, offering these organisations the capability to operate globally as they carry out their missions.  Inmarsat is also offering new service plan options for aid and NGO organisations. These new initiatives will ensure organisations have access to the connectivity they need to do their job, wherever they are.

Connecting critical supply chain delivery during COVID-19

As the need for supply chain delivery remains high, so has the anxiety levels of those responsible for the deliveries.  At sea, crews must deal with concerns about longer deployments, their health and that of their families, as well as the global economic and social impacts of this pandemic.  Accordingly, we took steps to ensure that the crew has access to news, family and medical connectivity during this pandemic.  Collaborating with health management solutions providers Vikand and software platform provider FrontM, Inmarsat has used its network to deploy innovative telemedicine solutions, enabling maritime users to connect via video with a trained health professionals, offering real-time medical advice.  We also offer critical mental wellness connectivity to the SeafarerHelp service provided by the International Seafarers’ Welfare Assistance Network (ISWAN).


These are only two examples of the myriad ways Inmarsat and other companies in the ICT sector are deploying innovative technologies to help manage this global crisis. At this crucial time, we are proud to be supporting governments, humanitarian organisations and a worldwide community of public and private enterprises, as they respond to such a difficult range of challenges.

About the Author

Rupert Pearce

Rupert Pearce joined Inmarsat in January 2005 as Group General Counsel and, from January 2009, additionally held the position of Senior Vice President, Inmarsat Enterprises. He became Chief Executive Officer in January 2012. Previously, Rupert worked for Atlas Venture, where he was a partner working with the firm’s European and US investment teams. He was previously also a partner at the international law firm Linklaters, where he spent 13 years specialising in corporate finance, M&A and private equity transactions. Rupert received an MA (First Class) in Modern History from Oxford University and won the 1995 Fullbright Fellowship in US securities law, studying at the Georgetown Law Center. He has been a visiting fellow of the Imperial College Business School, London, lecturing on the school’s Entrepreneurship programme, and is the co-author of Raising Venture Capital (Wiley).

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