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Thales Will Build Inmarsat’s EU High-Speed Inflight Wi-Fi Infrastructure

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Inmarsat and Thales will bring Europe one step closer to flying with the same Wi-Fi quality we’re used to at home.

Thales will develop and build a Complementary Ground Component (CGC) terminal for Inmarsat’s new European Aviation Network (EAN) high-speed inflight connectivity (IFC) solution.

Inmarsat first announced its interest in building a hybrid network in Europe which would capitalise on both satellite and cellular tower infrastructure to make high-speed in-flight Wi-Fi connections more readily available in the European skies back in 2014, announcing a projected launch date for the end of 2016.

In September of last year, Inmarsat partnered with Deutsche Telekom AG which would introduce high-speed LTE connections with a planned deployment for this summer.

In October of last year, Inmarsat announced a deal with Lufthansa Group to deliver high-speed IFC services to passengers on Lufthansa’s European continental fleet.

Inmarsat said it would equip more than 150 Lufthansa planes with its Global Xpress (GX) IFC product, and that more Lufthansa Group planes would get the connections “in due course.”

The first of Lufthansa’s planes to be equipped and tested were scheduled for early summer 2016.

At the time of the announcement, Inmarsat also stated that Lufthansa would trial the European Aviation Network (EAN) in 2017.

With Inmarsat’s EAN hybrid satellite LTE solution, aircraft between satellite and air-to-ground connections seamlessly–according to the connection type’s availability in each zone–for optimal delivery of the Wi-Fi service.  

With this infrastructure, airlines flying in Europe can offer reliable, high-speed onboard access to the internet along Europe’s high-traffic flight paths. Inmarsat will use its 30MHz (2 x 15MHz) S-band spectrum allocation in all 28 EU member states.

For those who like to geek-out on this stuff I recommend taking two minutes to catch up with everything Inmarsat had going on in 2015

Thales has already started developing the CGC terminal, which will be fitted onto aircraft to link with the LTE-based ground network. The development work has a planned completion date of March 2017. System trials and formal entry into service will follow before the end of 2017.

“The development of Inmarsat’s European Aviation Network will continue at full pace this year, bringing airlines and their passengers a step closer to unprecedented levels of inflight connectivity, rivalling the standards that have previously only been available on the ground,” said Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation.

“Thales Alenia Space expects to complete the production of our S-band satellite for EAN in the second half of 2016, and our other European partners, including Deutsche Telekom, Cobham SATCOM, OTE and now Thales, are also making great progress with other important components in this ambitious project,” he added.

“Thales is one of the only companies with the technical expertise and skills to deliver this new technology for the European Aviation Network,” Peter Hitchcock, VP Avionics of Thales, said.

He continued: “Our extensive experience in civil aviation connectivity combined with our relationships with OEMs and operators makes us one of the industry’s leading innovators. This development will dramatically enhance the passenger experience across Europe.”

Now we only need ubiquitous power outlets on aircraft seats and we’ll be all set!

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