Ofcom plans high-speed in-flight broadband

UK regulator Ofcom is planning the launch of internet services for passengers travelling onboard aircraft in the UK, the Financial Times reports.

Using enhanced satellite-based technology, at speeds reportedly 10 times faster than existing connections, Ofcom hopes to build on the existing limited internet access on UK flights – facilitated by internet dongles.

“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,” said Charles Jenne, policy director at Ofcom.

“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.”

The technology identified by Ofcom uses earth stations mounted on the aircraft to communicate with satellites on high-level frequency bands – consequently reaching significantly faster connectivity.

These frequencies are not used by terrestrial radio systems in the UK meaning they will not interfere with existing broadcasts.

The service is initially designed to cover only the UK, but Ofcom is working with European telecoms authorities to establish greater regional coverage.

In July this year, Ofcom announced a tentative launch date for 5G in the UK.