Daily Management Review

Home Like In-flight High Speed Braodband in Europe Soon


Passengers travelling on European short-haul flights will now be able to access the high speed via broadband internet in flight.

Built by Britain's Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom, the services would be offered using a combined satellite and air-to-ground network.

Providing levels of speed and coverage that are comparable to home broadband services, the platform will cater for travellers in Europe – that includes some of the some of the highest density air-traffic routes in the world, the companies said at a joint press conference.

In order to seek new ways to generate revenue from its passengers, the German airline Lufthansa will put on trial the in flight broadband service in 2017. Lufthansa now only offers wireless internet on long-haul flights.

Chief Executive Carsten Spohr told journalists in Frankfurt said that the pricing will depend on cabin class and ticket pricing. 180 of the planes of Lufthansa would have the new high speed in flight broadband services starting 2017.

With 85 percent of the passengers willing to give up other amenities on board to get internet coverage, the travellers placed a high value on staying connected, said Spohr.

However voice calls would not be possible using the new inflight high speed internet technology at present.

"The explicit wish of our customers is not to allow phone calls on board, and I promise you we will guarantee this very last privilege of privacy," Sophr told reporters.
With coverage switching to an Inmarsat satellite when the flight was over the sea, the service of in-flight broadband would be provided by build a network of 300 high-capacity 4G base stations across Europe using dedicated spectrum that would connect to aircraft, said Deutsche Telekom.

The cost for setting up of the dedicated network of 4G base stations each of which would have a range of about 80 km would cost more than 100 million euros or $112 million, Chief Executive Tim Hoettges said.

Using Inmarsat's separate new satellite network GlobalXpress from 2016, Lufthansa said that it would offer in-flight connections on European flights even before the hybrid network trial. Lufthansa notes that this new addition would let passengers travelling on continental flights and flights within Germany “to enjoy the full freedom to communicate and to use the Internet with a wide bandwidth above the clouds”. The time period for the new technology has been fixed for early summer of 2016.

Analysts it would offer in-flight connections on European flights, while welcoming the announcement, were skeptical about certain issues that included the sharing of costs and the revenue generated for the services between the airlines and the service providers.

"While Lufthansa validates the commercial and technical proposition, the presence of Deutsche Telekom validates our view that Inmarsat is uniquely positioned as a 'strategic' cog in the final frontier of wireless," they said.

Gogo Inc has been offering air-to-ground network serving in commercial aircrafts in the US 2008. 

(Sources:www.reuters.com & www.ft.com)