Lufthansa will offer high-speed internet to passengers flying on its planes in Europe as of next year.
Travellers will benefit from in-flight net access thanks to a partnership between Deutsche Telekom and Inmarsat, with the broadband delivered by a combination of the former's ground-based cellular network and the latter's satellite network.
Indeed, these two firms are developing what's known as the European Aviation Network, which seamlessly combines Deutsche Telekom's LTE network with connectivity beamed down from above via an Inmarsat S-band satellite.
Many European airlines are expected to benefit, with Lufthansa being the first, initially utilising the satellite-based broadband from the summer of 2016, and then trialling the full combined European Aviation Network from 2017 going forwards.
Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa, commented: “We are pleased to offer our passengers an outstanding Internet experience on board our short and medium haul flights already from 2016. This underlines once again that we are pioneers when it comes to digital services on board.”
Tim Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, added: “As a ground-breaking innovation we will roll out a powerful terrestrial network based on LTE within the European Aviation Network. This will be the first aviation connectivity network in Europe powered by both LTE and satellite combined!
“Our technology leadership provides a solid foundation for the best customer experience possible – be that on the ground or in the skies – and enables us to work with the finest partners in Europe and beyond.”
The system will function once the aircraft reaches 10,000 feet, and the switching between the ground-based LTE network and satellite network will be automatically managed by the plane’s on-board systems, with net access constantly and seamlessly maintained – or that’s certainly the theory.