Inmarsat Bringing In-Flight Broadband Across the EU

Airport businessman using phoneMobile satellite services operator Inmarsat is to deliver in-flight high speed broadband services to commercial and business passengers across Europe, it unveiled today. British Airways is already in advanced discussions to be a launch customer.

Inmarsat have commissioned a new S-band satellite from Thales Alenia Space, expected to launch in 2016, in order to achieve their ambition, and will complement it with a fully integrated air-to-ground network across the EU. The broadband capability will be offered alongside Inmarsats Global Xpress aviation services, extending its service coverage seamlessly across the rest of the globe.

In-flight passenger connectivity services have already seen rapid adoption in the US, with both installation and usage both growing swiftly, and the success of the Gogo air-to-ground network leading to AT&T starting work on a rival network. By 2020, in-flight connectivity is expected to be a multi-billion pound industry.

“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,” said Rupert Pearce, Inmarsat CEO. “A number of European airlines are aligned with this vision.”

“I am delighted that UK-based Inmarsat is leading the creation of a network to provide airline passengers with in-flight wi-fi,” said David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science. “Todays announcement is an important investment in new infrastructure that will promote productivity and growth in the UK and across Europe.”