Airline travellers in US airspace may soon be able to enjoy multi-gig broadband connectivity if the proposed provision of a new ATG service goes ahead.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) suggest, following a petition filed two years ago by Qualcomm Inc, that a new air-to-ground, two-way mobile broadband service should be introduced in the 14-14.5 GHz Ku-band, which would ensure that it would not interfere with, and also be protected from other users operating essential earth-space communications.
Of course, there is a long way to go yet, with hoops to jump through in terms of regulatory and licensing conditions, not to mention the bidding war that will ensue, once these terms are agreed, for the issue of the contracts to run the services.
If the proposals go ahead, the service will be initially limited to US airspace, but airlines from other countries will be able to offer the two-way mobile broadband service to their passengers whilst in US airspace.
The benefits of the new service will be wide for airline passengers, offering faster connectivity and maybe even a reduction in the cost of broadband services. It seems that business aviation will be the greatest beneficiary of the new band, as this industry is the fastest growing sector, with private and corporate jets requiring speeds of connectivity for utmost efficiency in the air as on the ground in their land-based offices.
Time will tell as the industry awaits the decision makers – watch this space!