Telefónica looks to the skies with new aircraft Wi-Fi deal

News

Telefónica is using Ka band satellites to bring 20MBps Wi-Fi to four of Spanish low-cost airline Vueling's fleet.

The Spain-based operator has picked Eutelsat to provide the satellite network and mobile service, with LiveTV supplying the equipment that will be on board the aircraft. The latter is currently getting certified from the European Aviation Safety Agency so the service can launch during 2014. 

Telefónica will integrate the LiveTV onboard technology and ViaSat satellite terminals with Eutelsat's Air Acess mobile service, which uses high throughput satellites. The service will be installed in four of Vueling's Airbus A320s. 

It marks the first time that the technology would be available on local flights, such as between Madrid and Barcelona, according to Telefónica.

Earlier this week, aircraft communications provider Gogo announced that it was using Ku-band technology to bring speeds of 70MBps to passengers. Japan Airlines will be the first to implement the technology in 2015. 

[Read more: Satellites to boost Gogo inflight connectivity to 70MBps]

The aircraft Wi-Fi space looks like it could get increasingly crowded this year after European Commission revealed last November that it had adopted new rules that will allow passengers on-board airplanes flying over the European Union to use 3G and 4G broadband services. 

Last April, Panasonic Avionics announced it had rolled out its eXConnect Wi-Fi service to 1,800 aircraft across 31 airlines. The company places a base station onto an aircraft, which connects to satellites while it is in flight and then onto mobile networks on the ground. The company said further deals would be signed with airlines throughout 2014. 

Read more 

Facebook targets free space optical tech to connect the unconnected

Ofcom announces plan for satellite internet on boats and planes