12 MARCH 2018
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Flights in Europe operated by British Airways are setting the scene for a revolution in short- and medium-haul inflight wi-fi this summer thanks to a new communications system developed by satellite operator Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom.
BA parent company IAG is launch customer for the system, the European Aviation Network, and plans to introduce high-speed wi-fi on selected aircraft from this summer, with 90% of the short-haul fleet equipped by 2019.
As Inmarsat explained last week, while on-board wi-fi is common on long-haul flights and is already offered by carriers including BA and Virgin Atlantic, it is rare in Europe because the dense airspace interferes with satellite connections.
The EAN system allows aircraft antennae to connect to a system of 300 ground towers across Europe as well as satellites and is said to need far lighter on-board equipment.
Inmarsat said the weight of equipment needed until now had not been fuel efficient for smaller short-haul aircraft, whereas they would now have access to “reliable, high-speed and future-proof in-flight broadband access across Europe”.
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