News Australia & New Zealand sign major contract with Inmarsat for new SouthPAN satellite service

Published:25 May 2023

Every major industry across Australia and New Zealand, from transport and construction to resources and agriculture, will gain positioning and navigation benefits from the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network’s (SouthPAN) new satellite service.

The signing of a 20-year AUD$187.4 million contract with Inmarsat Australia for the new SouthPAN satellite service on one of Inmarsat three new I-8 satellites brings SouthPAN partners, Geoscience Australia and Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand, one step closer to a world-class satellite positioning service for the southern hemisphere.

SouthPAN early Open Services have been available since September 2022. SouthPAN provides accurate, reliable and real-time positioning services across all of Australia and New Zealand’s land and maritime zones without the need for mobile phone or internet coverage. It will improve positioning accuracy to as little as 10 centimetres.

SouthPAN signals will broadcast services from the Inmarsat I-8 satellite, commencing from 2027. An additional SouthPAN satellite service is also being procured. These satellite services will provide redundancy and resilience in SouthPAN that will ensure continuous broadcast of SouthPAN signals, enabling the development and use of critical applications relying on SouthPAN. These satellites will also be a critical part of a safety-of-life certified SouthPAN for aviation and other applications, scheduled for 2028. These services will be accessed or used by end users engaged in operations where life could be at risk, like landing an aircraft at an airport.

Satellite in space

Inmarsat I-8 satellite where SouthPAN signals will broadcast from

Alison Rose, Chief of Space Division at Geoscience Australia, said SouthPAN is a major commitment between the Australian and New Zealand governments to provide essential satellite positioning services and will bring many benefits to industry.

“The new SouthPAN satellite service, along with SouthPAN’s ground infrastructure, will bring widespread benefits and a AUD$6.2 billion economic injection to Australia alone, with the value anticipated to increase as new applications are developed,” said Alison Rose.

“These services are a core component of the SouthPAN system, which will provide resilience in our precise positioning capabilities, especially for those applications that require high-integrity services with sub-metre level accuracy to improve safety and efficiency.”

Todd McDonell, President, Inmarsat Global Government said “SouthPAN represents extraordinary potential for the region. It can save lives by enabling precision safety tracking, help farmers improve productivity through automated device tracking, or even support transport management systems of the future. We have a long history providing services for Governments in the moments that matter most, and we are delighted that our Inmarsat-8 satellites will continue that legacy well into the 2040’s.

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