Deutsche Telekom, Inmarsat to launch new European in-flight broadband network

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Deutsche Telekom and Inmarsat are working together to launch a new broadband network that will provide in-flight connectivity to European airlines.

The European Aviation Network will combine a ground-based LTE network from Deutsche Telekom with Inmarsat’s satellite infrastructure to offer in-flight broadband across all 28 EU member states.

The network is expected to offer peak data rates of 75MBp/s and a surfing experience “similar to high-speed broadband at home”.

The technology, labelled as the first of its kind, combines LTE with Inmarsat’s 30MHZ S-band spectrum and kicks in once planes reach an altitude of 10,000 feet.

The German operator will build new air-to-ground LTE sites across every European country - approximately 300 in total - in order to ensure continent-wide coverage.

Each site will boast a range of 80KM and will “easily cover” planes travelling across Europe, Deutsche Telekom said.

Tim Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, said that LTE was the most suitable option to be combined with satellite technology as it offers high capacity and is flexible enough to allow for fast extension.

In a briefing to the press, Höttges said: “We’re always complaining about Europe in the digital world. In this regard, we have a positive answer because we are creating something for Europe.

“This is the first, really true European network that we are building, with no borders.”

German airline Lufthansa will be the first to trial the new European Aviation Network, starting in 2017.

The carrier also committed itself to offering satellite-based connectivity on short and medium-haul European flights from next year.

Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa, said: “We continue to strive for excellence when it comes to our passengers’ flying experience and the provision of reliable, consistent broadband connectivity aboard our planes, which will match that of high-speed home broadband in terms of speed and quality, is of extreme importance to us.”