Inmarsat is about to launch the second of its high-bandwidth, beamforming satellites: The fourth-generation of satellites doesn't cover huge areas by default. Instead, they can beam 492 Kbps signals to areas that range from the size of a city to the size of a small region.
Portable phones and data devices should work more simply and be much smaller than previous planned or deployed fast satellite networks. Tenzing's descendent firm OnAir will make use of the "I-4" network to bring speeds at multiples of 492 Kbps to in-flight aircraft. Thousands of aircraft already have Inmarsat equipment on board; the upgrade is fairly inexpensive and quick to put in a fourth-generation receiver.
The new system could also fuel rural broadband by providing superior bidirectional speeds at a lower cost per user.