Every major industry across Australia and New Zealand, from transport and construction to resources and agriculture, is set to gain positioning and navigation benefits from the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network’s (SouthPAN) new satellite service.
With the signing of a 20-year, AU$187.4 million contract with Inmarsat Australia for the new SouthPAN satellite service on one of Inmarsat’s three new I-8 satellites, SouthPAN partners Geoscience Australia and Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand are now one step closer to a world-class satellite positioning service for the Southern Hemisphere.
SouthPAN provides instant positioning services across all of Australia and New Zealand’s land and maritime zones without the need for mobile phone or internet coverage, and should improve positioning accuracy to as little as 10 centimetres. Early Open Services have been available since September 2022.
Signals will begin broadcasting services from the Inmarsat-8 satellite, which will cover the Asia–Pacific region commencing from 2027. The satellites will provide redundancy and resilience in SouthPAN to ensure continuous broadcast of signals, enabling the development and use of critical applications relying on its positioning. An additional satellite service will also be procured.
The 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.
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 $6.2 billion economic injection to Australia alone, with the value anticipated to increase as new applications are developed,” she said.
“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.”
“SouthPAN represents extraordinary potential for the region,” added Todd McDonell, President, Inmarsat Global Government. “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 2040s.”
Photo Courtesy: The Inmarsat I-8 satellite.