Google Mulls Acquisition Of Nokia’s Aeroplane Broadband Unit – Report

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Project Loon addition? Google is reportedly looking to acquire the airplane broadband business of Nokia

Google is reportedly in talks to purchase Nokia Oyj’s aeroplane broadband business in an effort to expand its services by offering in-flight high-speed internet.

According to the Bloomberg report, which cited people familiar with the matter, the talks are at an advanced stage and an agreement may be reached soon.

Nokia’s technology could help Google offer a faster alternative to existing Wi-Fi on airplanes, said Bloomberg sources.

Acquisition talks

A final decision hasn’t been made however, and the companies could still decide against a deal, the people said.

Representatives for Alphabet and Nokia have reportedly declined to comment on the matter.

Unlike most aeroplane broadband offerings, Nokia’s system does not bounce a signal off a satellite. Instead, Nokia’s LTE A2G cellular-based system creates a direct link between an aircraft and the ground. This approach apparently allows it to offer high-speed internet services via Wi-Fi for those onboard.

At the moment, Gogo Inc is existing provider of in-flight internet service and Google’s acquisition of Nokia’s division could trigger more competition in this sector.

Of course, this is not the first time that Google has dabbled with providing Internet connectivity in hard to reach locations.

Project Loon for example is its balloon-based communications platform developed by Alphabet’s X innovation lab.

Loon is intended to provide LTE communications between stations on the ground by linking them to high-altitude balloons equipped with airborne repeaters.

A transceiver on a balloon would get an LTE signal from a cell phone or a wireless company’s cell site and relay it from one balloon to another to complete the connection. This worked for emergency communications in Peru following a recent earthquake there.

And Google also has its Project Fi, one of a number of network initiatives at the company, including Google Fiber.

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