Inmarsat to Enable True In-flight Broadband Experience in Europe

Inmarsat has announced a key infrastructure milestone for its European Aviation Network (EAN), following the successful test and validation of the EAN Satellite Access Station (SAS). This makes it the first solution in the world to integrate connectivity from a satellite, operated by Inmarsat, and a LTE-based ground network, operated by Deutsche Telekom. EAN will now be able to provide a true in-flight broadband experience for millions of airlines passengers travelling throughout Europe.

The SAS (Satellite Access Station) is located in the Greek town of Nemea and operated under an agreement with OTE, the largest telecommunications provider in Greece and member of the Deutsche Telekom Group. Engineers undertook rigorous performance and stability tests to verify the SAS’s capabilities to serve as a reliable and robust gateway between Inmarsat’s S-band satellite and the internet.

The European Aviation Network offers a broadband experience like no other in the sky by combining satellite coverage with additional capacity from the ground network. Passengers can connect using their personal devices for internet browsing, video streaming, gaming and other online services. There are also important cost and operational benefits for airlines, as the EAN system is highly compact and weighs only a few kilos.

The results of the infrastructure testing with its partners Cobham SATCOM and OTE using a satellite simulator, have exceeded expectations. Inmarsat plans to launch EAN's service later in the year. The SAS consists of a 13-metre antenna that provides feeder links to the satellite, a radio frequency sub-system and a radio access network provided by Inmarsat partner Cobham SATCOM.

European Aviation Network

The European Aviation Network combines high capacity satellite coverage with a complementary 4G LTE ground network to provide high-speed connectivity across all 28 European Union states. Designed specifically for high-traffic flight paths and busy airport hubs, the network delivers over 50Gbps capacity. This means passengers can enjoy a reliable high bandwidth broadband service in the air that matches their expectations on the ground. Transforming the passenger experience, driving operational efficiency and opening new revenue streams for airlines, the European Aviation Network gives Europe’s aviation industry an edge over the rest of the world.

With European air traffic forecast to double over the next decade, the European Aviation Network is designed to grow capacity to match accelerating demand. Initially combining Inmarsat’s multi-beam S-band satellite with approximately 300 Deutsche Telekom ground towers, it’s easily and cost-effectively scalable. Bandwidth multiplies rapidly by increasing the number and density of towers and so gives us the opportunity for flexibility to meet the pace of change in the future.

On board, an economical equipment package is available for every aircraft type. Planes will carry terminals to connect with both the satellite and ground network to ensure seamless transition. With low installation and maintenance costs, and lightweight, low drag antennas so small they fit in a pocket, it all adds up to a solution that has very competitive operational costs compared to other solutions. Click here for more information.