Advanced Television

Eutelsat/OneWeb connects with IFC

March 5, 2024

By Chris Forrester

Eutelsat’s OneWeb division will start connecting aircraft with its in-Flight Connectivity (IFC) in September. OneWeb’s low Earth orbiting satellites will be supplying broadband direct-to-seat services to a number of airlines.

The news came from Dermot Cahalan, OneWeb’s Aviation Market Development Director, Europe, who was speaking at APEX (the Airline Passenger Experience Association) Tech conference in Los Angeles.

“We’re launching our first aviation service in September. So, at the moment we have got all the ground infrastructure in place for those launch customers and we’re building the remaining infrastructure well ahead of any future customers who are in the pipeline who we hope to announce imminently,” said Cahalan.

Runway Girl Network reports that Eutelsat/OneWeb has already signed up significant contracts from Intelsat, EchoStar/Hughes Network Systems and Panasonic Avionics to link their contracted airlines with satellite IFC connectivity.

Eutelsat/OneWeb gives an additional flexibility to airlines when making their IFC decisions, said Cahalan. “They’re not constrained to a particular constellation, and when we look at a world of increasing geopolitical uncertainty I think that is certainly something that’s a significant value to airlines.”

He explained: “There are use cases, for example, such as flying over Russia or China [where] we are unable to provide LEO services today for geopolitical reasons and clearly GEO is the option there. Ultimately, we expect that customers will increasingly want low latency because of that kind of snappier more immersive customer experience that you described. Once you become accustomed to that on aircraft, and all the additional productivity features that it enables you to do and things like gaming, etc., we feel it will be markedly noticeable when kind of operating on GEO-only.”

Cahalan added that OneWeb’s second-generation satellites, which will be deployed starting in 2026 and currently the specification is under review. “[We are] specifying that solution over the past few months and we have been evolving our next generation strategy, and what we will be doing from 2026 onwards now is gradually deploying new satellites to increase our capacity.”

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