Posted on: 20 November 2014 by Mark Howells
Alcatel-Lucent has been awarded a contract from Inmarsat to help develop the ground infrastructure of a new European-wide in-flight broadband network for both commercial and business aviation passengers.
The network, which is scheduled to enter the market towards the end of 2016, will consist of an S-band satellite constructed by Thales Alenia Space (Europasat) and an S-band ground network. Alcatel Lucent was the first company to field trial 4G LTE technology in 2011, and now has plans to adapt its current systems to support the S-band spectrum.
Leo Mondale, president of Inmarsat, announced, “We selected Alcatel-Lucent as a partner in the development of the ground network component due to their cutting-edge work in 4G LTE-based air-to-ground technology, and we are looking forward to partnering with them throughout the roll-out of this unique aviation service for Europe.”
Inmarsat hopes the connectivity service will offer airlines speeds up to 75mbps, which is much faster than North American air-to-ground systems currently allow.
Licenses for the satellite component of the network have been applied for in all EU Member States, with authorisation already having been received for 23 of them. The first ground component licenses have also been received, with Inmarsat confirming it’s already in discussion with a number of airlines and industry partners.
“Innovation is a core element of our strategy, along with growth enabled by diversification into new, vertical areas where we can apply our technology leadership,” said Alcatel-Lucent’s CEO, Michel Combes. “The Air-to-Ground technology partnership with Inmarsat brings Alcatel-Lucent’s proven leadership and commitment to innovation in providing ultra-broadband communications services to the aviation market.”