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European In-Flight Wi-Fi Moves A Step Closer After Inmarsat Test

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Using Wi-Fi on British Airways and other carriers in Europe will soon be a possibility after Inmarsat completes latest test

Inmarsat’s in-flight broadband service for European air routes has taken a step closer to launch with the successful completion of the EAN Satellite Access Station (SAS).

The European Aviation Network (EAN) uses both satellite technology and an LTE ground network operated by Deutsche Telekom – a combination that Inmarsat claims is a world first.

Inmarsat’s holds S-band spectrum licences across all 28 EU member states and will work with 300 LTE sites. Each of these sites will have a range of 80km – eight times the standard range of an LTE site – and is capable of transmitting data at the operating altitude and speed of an aircraft.

Read More: Is office-grade in-flight Wi-Fi ready for take off?

Inmarsat Satellite

In-flight Wi-Fi

The 13-metre SAS is located in Greece and acts as a gateway between Inmarsat’s S-band satellite network and the Internet. It is operated by Greek mobile operator OTE, which is part of the wider Deutsche Telekom group.

“The results of infrastructure testing at the satellite access station in Nemea, conducted with our partners Cobham SATCOM and OTE using a satellite simulator, have exceeded expectations and reinforced our confidence prior to the scheduled launch of our S-band satellite in the middle of 2017,” claimed Inmarsat’s Frederik van Essen.

“We remain on track for EAN’s service introduction later in the year.”

Lufthansa and British Airways are among those who have signed up for the service which promises a true broadband experience.

Air travel has long been considered the final refuge of those wishing to avoid phone calls, text messages and the Internet, but this sanctuary is slowly being eroded as more airlines offer in-flight Wi-Fi.

A number of US carriers and Australia’s Qantas have offered connections for some time, while Virgin Atlantic already offers high speed connectivity on some transatlantic flights from Europe after the Branson-branded airline agreed a deal with Gogo.

However some security researchers have raised concerns that such systems might be used by hackers to control aircraft systems.

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