Inmarsat Maritime has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Aramco, a global integrated energy and chemicals company, to undertake a 5G “mesh” network trial. The trial 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.

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Testing in the Arabian Gulf

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 5G mesh in the Arabian Gulf aims to showcase world-first long-range, high-throughput mIAB deployment over the sea – far beyond the maximum 1-km range previously possible.

The technology has the potential to allow Aramco to optimise 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 Internet of Things (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.

Inbuilt cyber security

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

Nabil Al-Nuaim, senior VP Digital & Information Technology, Aramco: ‘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 optimise our operations and improve the work environment for our operators.’

Picture: The MoU foresees a world-first deployment of a long-range, high-throughput, 5G mobile Integrated Access and Backhaul (mIAB) over the sea.

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