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Inmarsat to launch in-flight broadband to passengers flying within EU

Zafirah Salim | June 6, 2014
British Airways is in the midst of discussions with Inmarsat to be its launch customer.

Airline passengers flying within European Union (EU) will soon be able to access high speed broadband services in the sky to stream videos or music, thanks to a new aviation passenger connectivity service launched by British mobile satellite services operator Inmarsat.

According to its media statement dated June 5, 2014, Inmarsat will be deploying a new S-band satellite – called Europasat – to deliver this service, as well as a fully integrated air-to-ground network across the European Union (EU).

The total cost of this project is expected to amount between £200 million and £250 million over six years. Another operator, Hellas Sat, will also contribute to the cost of the satellite, which will be built in France by Thales Alenia Space. The satellite is expected to be delivered for launch at the end of 2016.

“With the support of EU telecoms regulators, Inmarsat can rapidly bring to market unique, high speed aviation passenger connectivity services to meet this market demand on an EU-wide basis,” said Rupert Pearce, Inmarsat’s CEO. “A number of European airlines are aligned with this vision and we are absolutely delighted to announce advanced discussions with British Airways (BA) to be a launch customer on our new aviation network.”

Kate Thornton, Head of Product and Service at British Airways, said that BA will roll out the new service to its UK domestic routes first.

However, the launch of this service is dependent on regulatory clearance from the 28 EU member states. The firm said it is confident that it will get a green light, given its prior approval for other satellite services and “strong support for its applications from many EU telecoms regulators”.


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