High Speed Broadband Connections On UK Aircraft

High Speed Broadband Connections On UK Aircraft

New satellite technology will allow passengers to use high-speed broadband ten times faster than any currently available as soon as next year.

British airspace passengers may soon be able to use high-speed broadband at high-altitude under plans revealed by the broadcast regulator Ofcom which has cleared the way for broadband speeds to be increased by up to ten times on aircraft travelling in the UK.

Ofcom consults about the use of satellite-powered mobile broadband systems on aircraft, ships and trains
UK telecom regulator Ofcom has published a consultation about authorising satellite-powered broadband systems that can provide internet connections on moving vehicles, including aircraft, ships, coaches and trains. These systems are known as Earth Stations on Mobile Platforms (ESOMPs). Not only can they offer a faster and more stable connection than a conventional cellular signal, their proposed frequencies also enable them to outperform current satellite-based internet connections on moving vehicles.

The new technology could offer broadband at 50mbps (megabits per second) – compared with 14.7mbps for the average home connection – although technology experts believe 10mbps is more realistic.

Advanced receivers will be used to pick up signals from high-frequency satellites, even when the vehicles they are fitted to are travelling fast. It is not known how much the service would cost and companies are likely to sign up to offer it only if there is a high demand from customers.

Inmarsat and fellow satellite companies, Eutelsat and ViaSat, are ready to launch new commercial “spot-beam” satellite networks which support the use of these “earth station” receivers on mobile platforms such as planes, boats and trains.

“Recent innovations in satellite technology mean it is now possible for aircraft, ships and trains to access the internet at speeds closer to what you’d expect from home broadband. Ofcom is proposing to allow the use of this technology in the UK, which could benefit business users and holiday-makers who want to stay connected while travelling,” said Charles Jenne, policy director at Ofcom.

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Photo Credit: Andy Budd

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