High-speed in-flight Wi-Fi may be just around the corner, thanks to a new joint venture between UK satellite company Inmarsat and operator Deutsche Telekom.
That’s right, the plans involve making broadband available in the skies across all 28 EU member states, so you won’t have to be on the ground to enjoy a superfast connection.
Plans are already in place to have the first trial in 2017, so you may be able to start taking advantage of it sooner rather than later. British Airways is believed to have been in talks to secure itself as the launch customer to trial the European Aviation Network system but that honour is now going to Lufthansa.
The German flag carrier’s aircraft will be fitted with the specialist equipment giving them the ability to connect to both the high-speed broadband ground network and the S-band satellite.
To maintain a strong and steady signal, the state-of-the-art systems will switch between the two, so customers will always be able to get a good connection no matter what’s below them.
That sounds good but how does a sophisticated system like this work? Well, in simple terms, below the plane Deutsche Telekom will use 300 specially modified LTE sites that range up to 80km, which is around eight times what a normal mast offers and is capable of dealing with the speed and height of a plane.
Above the plane will be the multi-bean satellites that rely on Inmarsat’s 30MHz (2x15MHz) S-band spectrum.