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Ofcom approves high-speed in-flight wifi tech

Published: 21/01/2014 - Filed under: News »

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Business travellers could soon be enjoying high-speed in-flight wifi after Ofcom approved the use of new satellite technology.

The UK communications regulator last year began a consultation on a satellite system for aircraft, ships and trains that can provide wifi connections up to ten times faster than what is currently available on public transport (see news, August 21).

The technology — Earth Stations On Mobile Platforms (ESOMPs) — uses high-frequency bands and has already been approved for use by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Ofcom said the decision means transport operators could use the technology to offer broadband speeds up to ten times faster than they currently experience.

It said these could be expected to reach around 50Mbps (megabits per second) to a single earth station, or more than 10Mbps to an individual passenger.

Earth stations are devices mounted to moving vehicles to provide travellers with internet by connecting to a satellite.

Ofcom said the technology should be available to use later this year.

Philip Marnick, group director of spectrum at Ofcom, said: "We want travellers to benefit from super-fast broadband on the move at the kinds of speeds they expect from their connection at home.

"Today's decision means that operators of trains, boats and planes will soon be able to begin the process of making these valuable services available to their passengers."

Isabel Montesdeoca, managing director at travel technology provider, Concur, welcomed the move saying it will make the lives of business travellers easier and more enjoyable.

However, she urged travel companies not to charge extra for the use of super-fast broadband.

She said: "Access to internet services isn't a luxury on the road. It's the difference between missing a flight and boarding, between a successful meeting and getting lost on the way there, between following up on a lead and seeing the email too late.

"It's as essential to the traveller as running water or electricity is to the consumer."

ofcom.org.uk

Graham Smith

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COMMENTS » 

nmh1204 - 21/01/2014 17:10

"We want travellers to benefit from super-fast broadband on the move at the kinds of speeds they expect from their connection at home" a large proportion of people in the country cannot even get FIVE MBps, let alone FIFTY! Ofcom is a bunch of hypocrites!

Toktumi2 - 23/01/2014 18:13

Unfortunately money does really make the world go round OfCom can obviously see the financial benefit to pandering to business needs over consumer needs nmh1204.
Unfortunately the only solution is to wait for the trickle-down which will inevitably happen as connectivity begins to be measured as a percentage of GDP and other metrics that makes sense to business communities.

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