Inmarsat and industry partners develop European Aviation Network for high-speed inflight connectivity, air-to-ground communications

LONDON, 15 April 2016. Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom officials have entered into a strategic partnership to bring unprecedented passenger connectivity to Europe’s aviation industry and its customers. A new innovative, combined LTE-based ground network and satellite network delivers travelers in Europe the advantage of inflight high-speed Internet access when in the air, and provides airlines a cost-efficient, future-proof connectivity solution.

Inmarsat and industry partners develop European Aviation Network for high-speed inflight connectivity, air-to-ground communications
Inmarsat and industry partners develop European Aviation Network for high-speed inflight connectivity, air-to-ground communications
Inmarsat IfecLONDON, 15 April 2016. Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom officials have entered into a strategic partnership to bring unprecedented passenger connectivity to Europe’s aviation industry and its customers. A new innovative, combined LTE-based ground network and satellite network delivers travelers in Europe the advantage of inflight high-speed Internet access when in the air, and provides airlines a cost-efficient, future-proof connectivity solution.

Deutsche Telekom and Inmarsat engineers are working together to develop the European Aviation Network (EAN), seamlessly combining satellite connectivity from a new Inmarsat S-band satellite with an LTE-based ground network developed and run by Deutsche Telekom.

A first for Europe, the European Aviation Network consists of the Inmarsat S-band satellite, a state-of the-art platform, which will provide multi-beam, pan-European coverage. The satellite is custom-designed to offer innovative mobile satellite services (MSS) to commercial and business airlines flying over the dense European routes, exploiting Inmarsat’s 30MHz (2 x 15MHz) S-band spectrum allocation in all 28 EU member states.

It is combined on the ground with a new, powerful, mobile broadband network of approximately 300 LTE sites which Deutsche Telekom will build and manage. The LTE sites will have a range of more than 80 kilometers (while conventional LTE sites have a range of 10 km or less), will be able to transmit data to the operating altitude of passenger planes, and are flexible enough to deal with the speed of a plane.

Inmarsat Inflight Connectivity

Once the aircraft has reached 10,000ft, Deutsche Telekom’s ground network will be combined with the satellite connectivity. The switching between the satellite and the ground will be automatically managed by the cabin systems, creating no impact or interference with the service delivered on board.

“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,” says 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.”

Inmarsat and industry partners develop European Aviation Network for high-speed inflight connectivity, air-to-ground communicationsInmarsat and industry partners develop European Aviation Network for high-speed inflight connectivity, air-to-ground communications

Lufthansa will be the first European hub airline to capitalize on these connectivity services in the sky. In early summer 2016, Lufthansa will launch a satellite-based broadband service, based on the recently launched technology provided by Inmarsat, on board its European flights. Building on this strategic relationship, Lufthansa is committed to a flight trial program of the European Aviation Network from 2017 onwards.

“This bold step will make Deutsche Telekom the first telecommunications operator to take the advantages of LTE technology to the European airspace and fits perfectly into our strategy to become the leading European telco,” explains Tim Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom. “As a groundbreaking innovation we will roll out a powerful terrestrial network based on LTE within the European Aviation Network. This will be the first aviation connectivity network in Europe powered by both LTE and satellite combined! Our technology leadership provides a solid foundation for the best customer experience possible – be that on the ground or in the skies – and enables us to work with the finest partners in Europe and beyond.”

Europe’s airspace is one of the busiest in the world and still holds great potential. Lufthansa continues to look for and implement innovative technologies to ensure future-proof, best-in-class service for its customers.

“We are pleased to offer our passengers an outstanding Internet experience on board our short and medium haul flights already from 2016. This underlines once again that we are pioneers when it comes to digital services on board. Together with Deutsche Telekom and Inmarsat, we are thinking further ahead. We want to engage in the development of next generation technology to further strengthen our innovative and leading role in this field,” says Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa. “We continue to strive for excellence when it comes to our passengers’ flying experience and the provision of reliable, consistent broadband connectivity aboard our planes, which will match that of high-speed home broadband in terms of speed and quality, is of extreme importance to us.”

The connectivity platforms developed by Deutsche Telekom and Inmarsat have been designed specifically to meet the growing needs of passengers travelling across the high-traffic flight paths in Europe. They provide a long-term solution with abundant capacity, speed, and coverage to equal an at-home high-speed broadband customer experience while aboard an airplane.

Lufthansa will take part in a flight trial program of the new European Aviation Network from 2017 onwards.


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