Viasat and China Satcom have announced an agreement for a strategic partnership to jointly provide in-flight connectivity (IFC) services within China for domestic and international airlines.
Viasat and China Satcom say they will work in partnership to enable Viasat’s global airline customers to have roaming connectivity when flying over China, provide IFC service to domestic flights within China, and enable Chinese airlines to roam onto Viasat’s global network.
China Satcom is a licensed telecommunications service provider in China and also owns and operates a Ka-band spot beam satellite system in China, which is the only Ka-band system currently available for IFC service in the country.
A key international destination for leading global airlines, China is the second largest aviation market in the world according to research from the International Air Transport Association.
China has one of the fastest-growing flying populations globally, and one of the most mobile and digitally-enabled. Yet today only about four per cent of flights within China are connected.
Don Buchman, Vice President and General Manager, Commercial Aviation, Viasat, said: “Our agreement with China Satcom is a significant step towards realising a seamless global community of high-performance IFC.
“China Satcom is now the only satellite operator and licensed service provider in China with the bandwidth resources to deliver the in-flight experience our airline customers have come to expect and depend on.
“Our partnership is a natural way to extend state-of-the-art services specific to China Satcom’s fleet and the China domestic market and create a global roaming alliance for our existing and new domestic and international customers and the rapidly-growing Chinese global commercial airline fleet.
“We are honoured to work with China Satcom in China to make IFC-at-scale a reality.”
Viasat and China Satcom will jointly develop and share in future China-based IFC business.
Viasat will deliver and support its IFC equipment to airlines tailored for use on the China Satcom network. Today approximately 2,000 global aircraft are already served by or planned for use on Viasat’s ViaSat-1 and KA-SAT satellites, as well as compatible satellites operating in Australia, Brazil, and other cooperating regional and global markets.
China Satcom will leverage its telecommunications service provider business license, operating expertise, and existing ground infrastructure to lead the delivery of advanced IFC services to the airlines. China Satcom’s growing Ka-band fleet includes the already operational ChinaSat-16 satellite as well as ChinaSat-18, planned for launch later in 2019.
Each company will maintain its own intellectual property and will operate its equipment using a multi-layered approach to network services.
This agreement specifically covers commercial aviation IFC, but could extend into the development of new connectivity applications for other ancillary markets in China. Financial terms of the agreement are not being disclosed.