Inmarsat Satellite In-Flight Wi-Fi Boosted By LTE Ground Network


Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom partner for European Aviation Network, with Lufthansa committing to trials for satellite-LTE in-flight broadband service

Inmarsat’s planned satellite-powered in-flight broadband service is to be strengthened by an LTE ground network built and operated by Deutsche Telekom, with Lufthansa to be the first airline to be connected as part of a trial next year.

The ‘European Aviation Network’ will eventually cover all major European air routes, providing commercial and business airlines with connectivity that promises to be as good as passengers’ home broadband.

Inmarsat’s holds S-band spectrum licences across all 28 EU member states and will work with 300 LTE sites managed by Deutsche Telekom. 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.

European Aviation Network

Lufthansa“With this integrated network we can meet the need for capacity, flexibility and quality of service, including the ability to expand quickly to anticipate growth in demand,” said Andy Sukawaty, Chairman of Inmarsat. “The integrated satellite and complementary LTE-based ground network will ensure that Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom together deliver the fastest, best and most consistent in-flight broadband experience that meets the needs of airlines in this region.

“Combined with our global GX (Ka-band) and L-band services, we now have connectivity solutions for the cockpit and the cabin of any type of aircraft, flying in any geography.”

Lufthansa will start offering satellite connectivity on board European flights from 2016 and has committed to test the European Aviation Network in 2017. British Airways is also among the airlines that have signed up to provide passengers with Inmarsat’s service.

In-flight Wi-Fi

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 late last year. 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.

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