Inmarsat is gunning for a major slice of the in-flight connectivity market, collaborating with tech firm Honeywell to establish the first global Ka-band service for airlines.
An exclusive agreement between the pair will see Honeywell develop and manufacture onboard hardware to connect to Inmarsat’s Global Xpress satellite network, which is scheduled to go live in 2013. Honeywell estimates the deal will generate $2.8 billion in sales, customer service and maintenance over the next 20 years, and enable air travelers to access services including social media, video conferencing and multimedia presentations.
"With this new service, the flow of information will no longer stop when the door to the aircraft closes," Tim Mahoney, president and chief of Honeywell Aerospace, says adding. “We believe this new network will significantly expand the connectivity options of consumer, business, and government customers around the world."
Leo Mondale, managing director of Global Xpress at Inmarsat, says the network will be the first global Ka-band service for the aviation industry. The network is due to offer worldwide coverage by 2014, and will “raise the bar for in-flight connectivity,” he states.
Interest in in-flight connectivity appears to be growing at present. Last month, German incumbent Deutsche Telekom completed tests of direct air-to-ground mobile broadband connections in conjunction with Alcatel-Lucent and Airbus, while in October, Etihad Airways chief James Hogan said cloud technology offers new options for in-flight broadband.