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Wednesday, 21 August 2013 13:39

The sky's the limit for ultrafast WiFi

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In-flight WiFi could soon be fast enough to stream movies and TV shows, after the UK announced some big changes to its satellite systems.

News surfaced today that the UK, through plans revealed by its communications regulator Ofcom, is looking to open up spectrum currently used by satellite Earth stations for vehicle-mounted stations, that could then be used to boost broadband capacity in aircraft, ships and trains.

So the next time you're flying out of Heathrow you could be streaming Breaking Bad or Arrested Development at lightning speeds, rather than having to watch the same movie as everyone else on the plane, or worse still, read a book.

Ofcom said it's hoping to drive innovation in mobile broadband services by making it easier for satellite operators to use 'Earth stations on mobile platforms' (ESOMPs) to deliver passenger broadband.

According to The Telegraph those flying in British airspace, as well as those travelling on trains and ferries, would be able to surf the internet at an estimated 10 times the speed currently available.

Ofcom said there was “increasing interest” in broadband use on moving vehicles in a recent publication.

The document is titled 'Earth Stations on Mobile Platforms' and says, “the relatively large amount of spectrum that we propose to make available means they [would] have the ability to provide links with higher capacity.

“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,” the Ofcom policy director Charles Jenne told UK newspaper The Independent.

“Ofcom is proposing to allow the use of this technology in the UK, which could benefit business users and holidaymakers who want to stay connected while travelling.”

Operators would be able to use the technology from early next year, if Ofcom’s proposals go ahead as planned.

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