Deutsche Telekom and Inmarsat ready for aviation satellite launch

21 July 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


European Aviation Network reaches next stage with completion of satellite that will deliver broadband to air passengers

Inmarsat has taken the next step in setting up a European Aviation Network (EAN) with the completion of its satellite, due for launch next year. The EAN will allow Deutsche Telekom to deliver a voice and data network to passenger aircraft across Europe using a mixture of satellite and mobile coverage.

Thales Alenia Space has finished construction and integration of the satellite in its testing centre in France, and the system is now undergoing end-to-end testing. SpaceX is due to launch the satellite in 2017, said Inmarsat.

Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said the EAN “will offer unprecedented high-speed capacity at 75Mbps with near zero latency while flying over Europe, so passengers can enjoy an easy-to-use true broadband experience for internet streaming, gaming and other online services direct to their personal smart devices.”

The EAN will allow European airlines to offer their passengers broadband coverage in flight. It will use 30MHz of satellite spectrum that covers the European Union plus Norway and Switzerland, and dedicated 4G mobile service via 300 Deutsche Telekom base stations. Aircraft will switch automatically between satellite and terrestrial connections.

Other partners in the project include Nokia, Cobham Satcom and Greek operator OTE, which is majority owned by Deutsche Telekom.

Mondale added: “This ground-breaking development will strengthen Europe’s position as a global technology innovator and support the continued growth of its aviation industry.”