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New Euro-net will let you stream Snakes on a Plane on a *!#@ plane

First flight test of combined satellite and LTE broadband made all the right conections

Inmarsat, Deutsche Telekom, Nokia and Thales say they have successfully conducted tests of a network capable of delivering in-flight broadband across all 28 (current) European Union nations.

The European Aviation Network (EAN) will blend S-Band satellite coverage provided by Inmarsat with 300 LTE ground stations scattered across Europe and run by Deutsche Telekom. The network will figure out which of those sources a passing plane should use at any given moment, to preserve satellite resources.

Passengers will access the network over WiF and pay for the privilege, giving airlines a new source of revenue. The use of ground-based LTE networks will help that, as planes need only a small antenna that creates little extra drag to connect to the network.

Inmarsat's brochure (PDF) for the service says “High capacity can be provided to each aircraft as we expect peak data rates of 75Mbps per cell across the coverage area.” Other promotional material suggests EAN will allow streaming video, raising the prospect of streaming Snakes on a Plane while inside a motehrf****ng plane.

The four companies mentioned above say they've conducted flight trials in which they attempted to make connections to four test sites somewhere “in the south west of the UK.”

During the test flight, “the systems performed multiple successful handovers between sectors and cell towers, and maintained a stable connection. The transfer of data to and from the aircraft was also tested.” It worked: Nokia's statement says “outcomes have exceeded expectations for this early flight trial and provided valuable data for the development teams.'

The four companies therefore feel the EAN is on track for planned 2017 takeoff. ®

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