Europe’s fliers are set to get Web access on planes through a deal by satellite operator Inmarsat Plc and phone carrier Deutsche Telekom AG, as the companies seek to work with airline customers such as Deutsche Lufthansa AG.
Inmarsat will combine its satellites with a Deutsche Telekom ground network to provide high-speed Internet to air travelers, according to a statement from Inmarsat on Monday. Lufthansa plans to offer passengers Web access on European routes starting next summer using Inmarsat’s separate global service.
While U.S. airlines including JetBlue Airways Corp. already offer in-flight Internet access, taking off in Europe has so far largely meant being cut off from the Web. Four in ten Internet users would like to surf the Web while on board a plane, German digital-industry group Bitkom said in August, citing a poll it conducted with 1,014 people in Germany. Deutsche Telekom will build and operate about 300 sites using high-speed LTE technology to link with Inmarsat’s satellites to provide full coverage and capacity in the high-density European airspace.
Lufthansa has been offering broadband Internet on its long-haul flights with Panasonic Avionics Corp. since 2010. Inmarsat expects the service to provide “high” profit margins for the company in coming years, Chief Executive Officer Rupert Pearce said last year.
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