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In-flight WiFi to be available across Europe by 2017

Jamie Rigg, @jmerigg
June 5, 2014
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In-flight internet is readily available across the US, but that type of connectivity is almost unheard of in Europe. Regulators are coming 'round to the idea, and seeing an untapped opportunity, Inmarsat has announced its grand plan to create an EU-wide network for getting air travelers online. The satellite company is partnering with 4G providers to build an air-to-ground network that'll handle the data traffic, in the same way Gogo (and soon AT&T) provides in-flight WiFi in the US. A newly built satellite called Europasat will also provide support from above, making sure the connection stays constant as a plane pairs with different cell towers along its path.

Ever the good guy, Inmarsat also expects the new satellite will support "emergency network services for public protection and disaster relief." The EU-specific network isn't expected to be up and running until the end of 2016, but British Airways has already expressed interest in being a customer. There's always a chance European airlines could use Inmarsat's global satellite-only network, due to go live at the end of this year, to offer in-flight WiFi even sooner. Either way, it doesn't look like it'll be too long before Europeans are never off-grid, even when they're off-land.

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