UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has given a go ahead to the use of ‘earth station’ antennas on fast moving vehicles including planes, trains and boats thereby opening up the road of faster internet access to passengers by connecting to geostationary satellites orbiting the earth.
Airlines and other transport operators with the new broadband technology will be able to offer customers broadband speeds of up to more than 10Mbps.
Passengers currently use smartphones and internet-connected dongles to access internet on vehicles, and entertainment consoles and Wi-Fi. However, the available technology offers very limited broadband speed especially in remote locations.
Ofcom said that earth stations, by making use of a relatively large amount of high-frequency spectrum, will allow much faster data speeds.
Group director of spectrum at Ofcom, Philip Marnick, said: “We want travellers to benefit from super-fast broadband on the move at the kinds 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.”
Trains will be exempt from the need for a spectrum licence, but the equipment that will be used on planes or ships will need to be licensed by Ofcom, while crossing into other countries’ jurisdictions.
Ofcom said applications for ship- and plane-mounted earth stations will begin in February and they will likely begin the first commercial deployments of the technology on vehicles in the UK sometime later this year.