Monday, 23 November 2015 02:35

Finally, Australian airlines should soon get in-sky Wi-Fi

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In November last year, NBN Co was predicting airlines might get connectivity via Ka-band NBN satellites in 2015-16 and now here comes Inmarsat.

My article from 28 November last year not only looked at NBN Co’s prediction that Australian airlines were going to get in-flight data connectivity within, at the time, the next couple of years, as well as the aborted history of sky-high connectivity, from Telstra trials through to rumblings about expensive GPRS from late last decade.

Fast forward to late 2015, and Inmarsat’s VP of Aviation in the Asia Pacific, Bell Pelota has been speaking to The Australian, suggesting its Global Xpress inflight service was now able to finally provide connectivity globally thanks to a third satellite which successfully launched in August.

The Global Xpress (G) satellite uses a ‘higher-frequency’ Ka bank to deliver up to 50Mbps, which is far faster than the 12Mbps that NBN Co was talking about last year and vastly faster than the sub 500kbps speeds Inmarsat’s older L-band signal delivered.

50mbps isn’t enough for every passenger to stream their favourite SVOD service, but Pelota was quoted stating that: “…in terms of good, useful productive communications it’s going to be the best thing that ­people have seen.”

The article continues below, please read on!

Among many other things, the Australian quotes Pelota suggesting the GX satellite as a ‘game changer’ as it can deliver far more bandwidth and speed for far better pricing, with negotiations with Australian carriers said to be underway.

If all goes well, the in-flight sanctuary of non-connectivity that has been enjoyed by at least some down under (while others have fervently wished they could stay as connected as their heart desired) will shortly now be gone with the wind, especially if work is happy to pay for your connectivity in flight or even actively demands it!

For everyone else you’ll just have to make your own decision, but having the option of being connected in-flight in Australia would be wonderful to have, so hopefully these negotiations end soon and the in-sky Wi-Fi revolution can be unleashed in Australian skies ASAP!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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