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UK planes, trains and boats could get 'superfast' satellite internet later this year

Matt Brian, @m4tt

Sure, in-flight internet has its perks, but it's not available everywhere and it can be a little slow. To push things forward, at least in the UK, Ofcom has approved the use of satellite-based technologies on planes, trains and boats, enabling "superfast broadband speeds" while on the move. The regulator said it has set aside a large amount of high-frequency spectrum (4,128 MHz worth) specifically for vehicle-mounted "earth stations," giving airline, train and ferry operators the chance to deliver speeds up to 10 times faster than before.

In the past, operators have used air-to-ground 3G stations or other satellite-based platforms to provide internet to customers. Ofcom, however, is backing a technology that enables operators to track satellites more closely and make it easier to maintain speedier and more reliable connections while in the air or on the water. In the US, airlines like JetBlue have already taken in-flight internet to the next level, utilizing the ViaSat-1 satellite to provide travelers with faster speeds as part of its Fly-Fi service. So when can UK travelers expect faster internet during their travels in the UK? The regulator says it expects to open applications for ship-mounted and aircraft-based earth stations next month. Trains are exempt, however, because they're land-based, which means we could see operators offer commercial services before the end of this year.

[Original image credit: scbmypics, Flickr]

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