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Media regulator puts forward plans for in-flight Wi-Fi boost

Graeme Parton

A whole new world of content could soon be made available to flight passengers if a new proposal from  Ofcom gets the green light.

The communications regulator’s plans involve the licensing of an innovative satellite system which could affect aircraft, as well as trains and ships, as early as next year.

The Earth Stations on Mobile Platforms, or ESOMPs, can be used to provide connections which are as much as 10 times quicker than the current standard available to airline passengers. This would make it possible for travellers to access HD quality video content on sites like YouTube, Netflix and the BBC’s iPlayer.

While none of the UK’s airlines have said they would be using the new technology, Richard D’Cruze, British Airways’ head of in-flight entertainment, said:

“[We are] closely monitoring developments in the connectivity market in both the satellite and direct air-to-ground technology areas.”

Ofcom started its consultation process earlier this month and has worked closely with its counterparts in a number of other European countries, including Germany, Luxembourg and France, for around two years now. All of these nations are thought to be putting their own plans together.

Speaking about the benefits for UK consumers, broadband expert Andrew Ferguson said:

“The parts of the UK that might benefit the most are those train services in rural areas where 3G connectivity is currently very poor or non-existent.”

He did, however, go on to suggest that with the new technology would come higher costs, which may be passed onto the consumer.

Here at Pressroom, we’ve started to notice how different organisations and companies are striving to fill the internet connectivity gaps, wherever they may be. Whether in developing countries or way up in the clouds, it seems we’ll soon all be ready to access content regardless of location.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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