Eutelsat Communications has announced the launch of a new aeronautical mobile service called Eutelsat Air Access designed to accelerate the deployment by commercial airlines operating in Europe of in-flight connectivity for passengers.
Over the next 10 years the number of aircraft offering in-cabin entertainment and connectivity services via passenger devices should grow by more than 50% a year in Europe and the Middle East, and more than 80% in Asia and the Pacific
Reportedly delivering speeds of up to 100 Mbps per airliner, Eutelsat Air Access will be available from mid-2013.
The new service uses ViaSat SurfBeam 2 technology, for airborne connectivity using the Ka-band, and will be deployed on Eutelsat’s KA-SAT high throughput satellite which reportedly delivers a total capacity of 90 Gbps.
Eutelsat Air Access will allow aeronautical service providers, the company claims, to offer passengers internet access, video-streaming and GSM services via tablets, smartphones and laptops. The service will be launched across Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, with the objective to expand the service area using other Ka-band satellites.
Eutelsat is partnering on the deployment of Eutelsat Air Access with LiveTV, a provider of live in-flight entertainment and connectivity services for commercial airlines. LiveTV will provide, integrate and maintain on-board equipment and operate Wi-Fi internet access services and video streaming for passengers.
LiveTV has reportedly equipped more than 700 aircraft around the world including Aer Lingus. The Irish airline last month signed a letter of intent with LiveTV and plans to launch in-cabin internet access for customers on its European network. The new service will be available on Aer Lingus short-haul fleet, including Airbus A319/A320 and A321. The first flights with the service are planned in the second half of 2013.
Eutelsat’s CEO, Michel de Rosen, commented on the launch of airborne services via KA-SAT: “We believe that in-flight connectivity is a strong growth market and are ready with the latest technology and strong partnerships to address this business. Over the next 10 years the number of aircraft offering in-cabin entertainment and connectivity services via passenger devices should grow by more than 50% a year in Europe and the Middle East, and more than 80% in Asia and the Pacific. Eutelsat has already gained experience in aeronautical mobile services using Ku-band satellites. With Eutelsat Air Access we are moving into a new era to enable airlines to cost effectively bring in-cabin connectivity to their customers.”