Credit: Bjoen Schwarz/Flickr

European plane passengers will soon be able to use 4G internet

Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom have announced plans to create a network for airlines.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 21 Sep 2015

From Google Drive to iTunes, so much of the software used by people and businesses these days relies on being online to function fully. And while mobile internet is getting better, there are still dead spots like the London Underground and aeroplanes, where it’s almost impossible to get connected.

But help could be at hand. Today British technology firm Inmarsat announced it was partnering with Germany’s Deutsche Telekom (DT) to create the European Aviation Network, which will allow air passengers to access '4G style' internet up in the clouds. The network will combine a new satellite developed by Inmarsat with DT's ‘long-term evolution’ (LTE - another name for 4G) ground network.

‘This will be the first aviation connectivity network in Europe powered by both LTE and satellite combined!’ DT’s CEO Tim Höttges said in a particularly excitable statement (perhaps he is looking forward to watching Netflix from the comfort of a first-class seat).

‘With this integrated network we can meet the need for capacity, flexibility and quality of service, including the ability to expand quickly to anticipate growth in demand,’ added Inmarsat’s more measured chairman Andy Sukawaty.

Inmarsat's tech will trialled by Lufthansa early next year, but the full European Aviation Network won't be up and running until 2017 - so it might be a while before you can update Facebook and check out Instagram from 50,000 feet.

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