UnicomAirNet (UAN) has signed a multi-year agreement with Eutelsat Asia, an affiliate of Eutelsat Communications, to address the fast-growing in-flight connectivity (IFC) market in the Asia Pacific region.
UnicomAirNet was established in 2017 by China Unicom’s broadband network unit and Hangmei, Chinese Wi-Fi service and content provider for railways and buses, to provide IFC services to Chinese commercial airlines.
As of 2019, UnicomAirNet will lease the remaining capacity on the High Throughput payload of the EUTELSAT 172B satellite, to enhance IFC services across an area stretching from the west coast of North America to Asia and Australia.
The agreement follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between China Unicom and Eutelsat, which took place during the French President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to China in January.
The MoU aims at addressing the satellite communications market in Asia Pacific, within the framework of the “Belt and Road” initiative.
The EUTELSAT 172B satellite was launched in June 2017 on an Ariane 5 rocket.
Built by Airbus, EUTELSAT 172B is the first European all-electric satellite. Optimised for in-flight connectivity, its High Throughput payload of 11 spot beams enhances efficiency, enabling dynamic power allocation on high-traffic air routes in the Asia Pacific region.
Herman Guo, General Manager of UnicomAirNet, said: “The trans-Pacific region is the world’s busiest aviation market, with the fastest growth rate. EUTELSAT 172B will provide high quality IFC services to passengers with the best performance and efficiency.”
Rodolphe Belmer, CEO of Eutelsat, added: “This contract represents the first tangible step of our MoU, leveraging the strengths of both partners to tap the considerable opportunities in the IFC market in the Asia Pacific region. It also demonstrates the exceptional quality of the coverage of EUTELSAT 172B in this market.”