British Airways is all set to become one of the primary airline to offer passengers in-flight Wi-Fi using the new S-band satellite called Europasat. UK-based firm Inmarsat operates Europasat and they are planning to go live in 2016 with the goal of serving the European aviation market.
The world-class airline will at first offer in-flight Wi-Fi on domestic routes before their expansion plans out-fold to encompass the service across Europe as the network begins to grow. In 2013, UK communications regulator Ofcom paved the way for satellite Wi-Fi on aircraft by offering to relax the current rules.
Kate Thornton, head of product and service at British Airways says BA is currently in discussion with Inmarsat regarding leading Europe in a new era of “broadband in the air…Starting with UK domestic routes Inmarsat intends to deploy Europe’s first ground-based 4G broadband network giving our customers the Internet access they expect on the ground while in the air.”
The aviation network deployment of Inmarsat will utilise its existing European approval to manage integrated satellite-terrestrial communications in 30MHz spectrum across the 28 member states of the EU. The company is currently working on gaining additional licenses within Eurpoe and says there is “strong support” for their applications and a steady framework can be agreed soon. As soon as this approval has been granted, Inmarsat will then work on expanding the ground network deployment part of the project.
The cost of manufacturing, launching and operating Europasat is being shared with Hellas-Sat. Each partner receives exclusive rights to a separate payload and each firm will pay between $200 million and $250 million. Inmarsat will pay out the same sum on its ground network over the next six years as it then copes on the growing demand for in-flight Wi-Fi.
Inmarsat CEO Rupert Pearce says, “We believe that the same in-flight connectivity opportunity exists in Europe and that, with the support of EU telecoms regulators, Inmarsat can rapidly bring to market unique, high speed aviation passenger connectivity services to meet this market demand on an EU-wide basis…A number of European airlines are aligned with this vision and we are absolutely delighted to announce advanced discussions with British Airways to be a launch customer on our new aviation network.”
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