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Ofcom green lights faster broadband for air passengers

Ofcom has approved high-speed internet access on planes and boats.

The move means that airlines can finally offer passengers superfast broadband while travelling in the UK.

Transport operators can now install earth stations on vehicles to connect passengers up to the internet.

This follows a consultation by Ofcom in August last year weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of using these earth stations on moving vehicles. These earth stations are equipped with powerful antennae that connect to geostationary satellites.

Each earth station would get speeds of up to 50Mbps or more than 10Mbps per passenger. Ofcom hopes the first commercial deployments will begin later this year.

Earth stations installed on train or other land-based vehicles would not require a spectrum licence. However, earth stations on ships and planes would require a licence as they can cross into other countries’ jurisdictions.

The regulations are expected to come into force this summer.

Philip Marnick, Group Director of Spectrum at Ofcom, said: “We want travellers to benefit from superfast broadband on the move at the kind of speeds they expect from their connection at home.

“Today’s decision means that operators of trains, boats and planes will soon be able to begin the process of making these valuable services available to their passengers.”

Image: Flickr/RHL Images/CC


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