US troubles hit remote internet firm Inmarsat

AN UNSUCCESSFUL venture into US mobile broadband and the departure of troops from Afghanistan hit satellite internet operator Inmarsat in the third quarter of the year, the company revealed yesterday.

Inmarsat saw total revenues fall 10.5 per cent year-on-year in the period, largely due to its ill-fated LightSquared US mobile network, a bid to launch a 4G service which saw expansion blocked by the US Federal Communications Commission and went bankrupt in May.

Revenues from the venture fell from $64.5m (£40.4m) in the quarter last year to $11.7m.

Inmarsat, whose core business is providing satellite broadband to remote areas and ships, also estimated it lost $8.1m in turnover from reduced troop operations in Afghanistan.

However, Inmarsat did see improvements in sales to shipping companies. The company’s FleetBroadband service added 2,128 terminals in the quarter, bringing the total up to 32,000. Turnover in the maritime business was up 17 per cent on last year.

Revenues excluding LightSquared rose five per cent to $322m, but with the venture included they fell from $364m to $326m. Shares fell around three per cent yesterday.

“Overall, the third quarter continues to demonstrate improved and more stable revenues from our core wholesale operations and positions us well, despite the challenging macro-economic environment,” chief executive Rupert Pearce said.