AIX: Panasonic Gen 3 drives more bandwidth for applications

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Ian Dawkins, Panasonic Avionics' Vice President, Global Network Operations.
Ian Dawkins, Panasonic Avionics’ Vice President, Global Network Operations.

Panasonic Avionics continues to roll out its next-generation Newtec modem upgrade for its Gen 3 network, giving greater inflight connectivity speeds and bandwidth.

The modem works with new high-throughput (HTS) Ku-band satellites, providing spot beams and wider overlay beams to support Panasonic’s inflight internet, video streaming and global inflight television service and offering bandwidths up to twenty times greater than previously available.

The network also supports 3G telephone services, and greater bandwidth for crew applications and is backed by a range of recent new measures including Panasonic’s new Customer Performance Center and Panasonic’s ZeroTouch service, which enables real-time content loading, validation and management.

Ian Dawkins, Panasonic Avionics’ Vice President, Global Network Operations, said: “We’ve rolled out Gen 3 to 167 aircraft with a US-based customer airline and it’s going well. We are now starting to roll-out to international fleets, slowly to start with and then ramping up very, very quickly.

“At the height of the roll-out we will be upgrading about eight aircraft a day.”

The upgrade roll-out also includes the installation of the Newtec modem at the numerous satellite ground stations as well.

Panasonic is effectively running two networks in parallel and will eventually switch off the older network in due course.

“There’s no fixed date for the close-down,” said Dawkins. “We will keep the network going as long as it is needed, while we migrate everyone to the new network.

“What we have seen is the level of performance on the Gen 3 network means the passenger experience is better and will start to enable all of the things we now want to do.

“The data we get from the network will allow us to work with airlines to offer a more personalised experience for the passenger. This isn’t about selling bandwidth, as it was in the past, this is about selling services.

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“It used to be about ‘how much is IFC per megabyte?”, but airlines are moving on from that,” he said.

All this is supported by Panasonic’s new Customer Performance Center, which is driving enhanced network performance, reducing outage times and offering faster response and resolution times.

Panasonic says Gen 3 helps power its NEXT airline on-board loyalty platform, which enables personalisation for passengers and allows airlines to extend their loyalty programmes into their on-board services.

NEXT allows passengers to resuming unfinished movies from previous flights, receive recommendations based on their viewing history, unlock exclusive content and offers based on loyalty programme status, and view a customised look-and-feel associated with their profile.

Panasonic is investing heavily in new people, artificial intelligence (AI) and other software to mine the “data lake” being created thousands of passengers worldwide.

It is setting up a new office in Silicon Valley, and has selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help deliver data analytics and insights

The data lake, combined with Panasonic’s cloud capabilities, means video content can be better targeted and passengers may soon receive offers and advertising that is being decided in real-time by the automated analysis of data being beamed to the ground.

Inflight connectivity, coupled with powerful AI software, suddenly opens up a marketplace that just never existed.

“As a business, we are interested in outcomes – and this is what is now driving what we are doing,” Dawkins said.

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