While the U.S. has led the world in making in-flight Wi-Fi more widely available, Europe still lags behind.
For now, most of the skies over Europe are quite places to work, read a book, watch a film on our personal electronic devices, or simply delight in the view through the window–and what a view it is!
But technology is advancing, and all of that will change soon. Satellite providers are battling to cover the European skies and the battle is heating up.
A new partnership between Panasonic and Telesat gives Panasonic access to “significant HTS Ku-band capacity serving aero and maritime routes over Europe, the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Sea.”
Headquartered in Canada, Telesat is a global satellite operator, providing global coverage for broadcast, telecom, corporate and government customers through its fleet of 15 satellites plus the Canadian payload on ViaSat-1, with two new satellites under construction.
Through the agreement announced today, Panasonic gets access to nearly all the high throughput satellite (HTS) Ku-band capacity covering the Mediterranean, Europe and Middle East on Telecast’s new Telstar 12 VANTAGE, which became fully operational in December 2015.
Panasonic gets HTS capacity over key aero routes from Western Europe to the Middle East delivering more better in-flight Wi-Fi to airlines across the region.
Tom Eaton, Vice President, International Sales for Telesat said of the agreement:
“Telstar 12 VANTAGE is a powerful high throughput satellite designed to provide customers like Panasonic important operational and commercial advantages. Panasonic’s multi-year commitment validates the advanced capabilities of Telesat’s newest satellite.”
David Bruner, Vice President, Global Communications Services at Panasonic Avionics lauded Telesat for their cooperation adjusting the position of the HTS spot beams on Telstar 12 VANTAGE to meet Panasonic’s requirements.
“This further optimises the service for Panasonic and gives us an edge in winning mobile broadband business in the air and at sea,” Bruner said.
Meanwhile in the EU Skies
Passengers on Norwegian Air get free high-speed Wi-Fi, and Lufthansa has signed an 10-year agreement with Inmarsat to introduce high-speed Wi-Fi on its short-haul Continental flights through a collaboration between Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom introduced last year.
Finnair introduced Wi-Fi on its new A350 XWB, and will continue introducing the service throughout most of its long-haul and short-haul Airbus fleet through 2018.
Spanish low-cost airline Vueling is slowly testing out the service on two of its aircraft. The airline has said it will install the service on four aircraft in all, to review the viability of a broader installation.
Rivals easyJet and Ryanair have so far said that they are not considering the service, until they could find a good business case for introducing it.
Other airlines are standing by and watching the space closely. So are we all.
As a side note, this announcement is also good news for the major Scandinavian shippers and oil producers. Panasonic will use the HTS capacity of Telstar 12 VANTAGE to expand mobile broadband services in growing maritime markets and North Sea oil and gas operations.
“We are well positioned to expand in maritime and energy markets across Europe,” Burner said.
Featured Image: Norwegian says its European passengers can’t wait to get connected. Especially on routes to and from Spain./Norwegian