UK’s Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom has joined together to provide high-speed internet access on flights using a combined satellite and air-to-ground network. The speed and coverage will equal the home broadband services, say the companies.
The cost for the service will be charged according to the cabin class and ticket pricing, said Lufthansa’s Chief Executive Carsten Spohr in Frankfurt, which will put the new service on trial in 2017. Earlier, Lufthansa offered wireless internet only on long-haul flights and this would be a new way to generate revenue from its passengers. Lufthansa would offer the service on 180 of its planes.
According to Spohr, 85 percent of customers are willing to give up other amenities on board to get internet coverage. The new framework combines LTE and satellite networks to deliver internet. It would be called as The European Aviation Network.
The multi-beam satellites in the network would rely on Inmarsat’s 30MHz (2 x 15MHz) S-band spectrum, which covered all 28 EU member states. On the other hand, Deutsche Telekom, will utilize 300 specially-modified LTE sites that ranged up to 80 kilometers (normal masts offer around 10 kilometers) capable of efficiently dealing with the speed of a plane travelling at 10,000 feet.
The system will switch automatically between the S-band satellite and the high speed broadband ground network, so that the connectivity is not lost. According to Inmarsat they would be “similar to the comfort of high-speed broadband at home” — whether their plane was above land or water.
Europe has the largest high density air traffic routes in the world.