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Inmarsat launches first satellite for faster broadband network

LONDON, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Britain's Inmarsat, which provides communications to ships, aircraft and remote locations worldwide, has successfully launched the first satellite to create its new superfast broadband global network.

The satellite was carried on board a Proton Breeze M rocket launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sunday, before it separated from the rocket in the early hours of Monday morning.

Chief Executive Rupert Pearce said the launch was a major landmark on the company's journey to deliver the world's first globally available, high-speed mobile broadband service.

The company is investing $1.6 billion in building Global Xpress, which could eventually include four Boeing-made satellites. Operating in the Ka-Band, they will provide connections of up to 50 Mbps, 100 times faster than its existing services.

Pearce said in an interview that there was a 15 percent risk of a launch failure, although Inmarsat had never lost a satellite.

"A very big part of the risk has been retired," he said on Monday, about the completion of the launch and initial stages of deployment.

The company should be ready to trial the service towards the end of the second quarter.

"We have a number of customers looking to jump on board and start trialling products and services, most notably our government customers who are anxious to be early adopters of Global Xpress," he said. "We are within touching distance of that."

Shares in Inmarsat were trading up 5.4 percent at 728.5 pence at 1628 GMT on Monday after the successful launch.

Analyst at Jefferies marked the occasion with an upgrade to their revenue expectations for Global Xpress, and they now expect Inmarsat to produce compounded growth of 8.3 percent over the 2014-2016 financial year period, up from 6 percent.