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British Airways European Flights Get In-Flight Wi-Fi In 2017

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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British Airways short haul flights get in-flight Wi-Fi a year later than planned, with long haul flights set to be connected in 2017 too

The first British Airways short haul route with in-flight Wi-Fi will be active next summer, the carrier’s parent group International Airlines Group (IAG) has confirmed.

The network will be powered by Inmarsat’s European Aviation Network (EAN), which uses a combination of S-band satellite connectivity and a ground-based LTE network built and operated by Deutsche Telekom.

Inmarsat 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 takeoff?

British Airways in-flight Wi-Fi

British Airways Red ArrowsIAG struck a deal with Inmarsat in 2014 and it had been expected that the service would go live this year rather than next.

In total, 321 aircraft will have access to the EAN: 132 from BA, 125 from Vueling, 45 from Iberia and 39 from Aer Lingus. IAG promises passengers will be able to connect ‘multiple devices’ and have speeds ‘similar’ to those they enjoy at home.

IAG has signed a separate deal with Gogo for long-haul in-flight Wi-Fi, which is expected to go live next year as well. Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 planes will be among those equipped with the system, of which 118 belong to British Airways, 15 to Iberia and 4 to Aer Lingus.

Rollout across the group is expected to be completed by 2019, by which point nine in ten flights will be covered.

“We are giving our customers the fastest connectivity you can get on any aircraft,” declared Willie Walsh, IAG CEO. “Having announced Wi-Fi for long haul flights earlier this year we are now equipping our airlines’ short haul fleets with inflight broadband access.

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“Connectivity is essential because it’s what our customers demand and IAG will be the first European airline group to offer high-quality air to ground Wi-Fi on short haul flights.”

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, budget carrier Ryanair is also considering offering Wi-Fi as part of its push to attract more business passengers. However some security researchers have raised concerns that such systems might be used by hackers to control aircraft systems.

Inmarsat is confident that its EAN is a game changer, allowing people to be more productive while in the air.

“The European Aviation Network is a game changer for the millions of airline passengers that have been cut-off from fast, reliable and consistent broadband access during flights in Europe,” said Leo Mondale, president of Inmarsat Aviation.

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