Inmarsat hit by big US client’s year of trouble

SATELLITE telecommunications provider Inmarsat took a five per cent hit to revenues last year after one of its major customers, US mobile network venture Lightsquared, experienced a turbulent year.

Lightsquared – which aims to provide high speed mobile coverage across the US using a combination of traditional telecoms infrastructure and Inmarsat’s satellite coverage – last year filed for bankruptcy, failed to gain Washington’s permission to set up, and saw its chief executive resign.

This meant that income from Lightsquared fell from $203.8m (£135.4m) in 2011 to $60.2m last year. Payments for using Inmarsat’s airwaves are now suspended until 2014, when Lightsquared hopes to have got its act together.

Despite this setback however, Inmarsat enjoyed a year of growth in its other operations, which provide satellite broadband and phone services to those who do not have fixed connections, such as ships, planes and aid workers in remote areas.

Excluding the impact of Lightsquared, revenues rose six per cent, driven by increased demand for broadband services on ships, although the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan cost the company.

“It’s clear that passengers are demanding a connected aircraft and we are superbly placed for that,” chief executive Rupert Pearce told City A.M.

“We’re installed in 200 aircraft up from 50 a year ago and are committed to 1,000 more.”