Panasonic says HTS will drive down cost of inflight connectivity

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David Bruner, Vice President of Panasonic’s Global Communications Services
David Bruner, Vice President of Panasonic Global Communications Services.

Panasonic Avionics says the introduction of new High-Throughout Ku-band Satellites (HTS) will drive down airtime costs, bringing better deals for airline passengers.

Speaking to “Get Connected’s” Steve Nichols, David Bruner, Panasonic Avionics’ Vice President of Global Communications Services, said that its recent deals with Telesat, SES and Intelsat meant that it would have more capacity than any of its competitors.

“The economics are going to make it very attractive to airlines,” Bruner said.

“On a global basis, nothing comes close to us. Ka-band systems can offer good economics over large land masses, where it is used for broadband to home networks, but over oceans it is a different matter entirely.

“Backing Ku-band was a ‘big bet’ for us a few years ago, but it is paying off. And three or four years from now, when new extreme-throughput satellites start to appear, the economics will get even better,” Bruner said.

Last month Panasonic announced it had contracted for nearly all the HTS Ku-band capacity covering the Mediterranean, Europe and Middle East on Telesat’s new Telstar 12 VANTAGE satellite.

Telstar 12 VANTAGE became fully operational at 15 degrees West in December 2015 and will provide Panasonic with HTS capacity over key aero routes from Western Europe to the Middle East.

It has also signed for HTS capacity on SES-14 and SES-15, which are both due to be launched in 2017.

Panasonic had previously signed agreement with Intelsat for up to one gigabit-per-second (Gbps) of capacity on its Intelsat EpicNG satellite platforms. This translates into 80 megabits-per-second (Mbps) per aircraft and 200 Mbps per spot beam available to any aircraft flying high-traffic routes across North America and the North Atlantic.

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The company’s first EpicNG HTS satellite, Intelsat 29e, was successfully launched in January 2016.

“Our Intelsat 29e capacity should come online around April, “ said Bruner. “This will give us capacity from the west coast of the US to the Middle East.”

Intelsat expects to launch the second EpicNG satellite, Intelsat 33e, which will serve Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, in the third quarter of 2016.

“This will give us coverage all the way to Asia by October, and by the middle of 2017 we’ll have high throughput capacity across the Pacific,” Bruner said. “All this capacity means we can offer it at a lower price to airlines.

“They will then be able to offer either complimentary internet access or a reduced price point for passengers.

“We are past the tipping point for inflight connectivity now – we can expect to see a lot of announcements from airlines signing up to inflight connectivity or upgrading over the coming months,” Bruner concluded.

Panasonic said that it expects to make a number of new airline and technology announcements at the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) Hamburg in early April.

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