In the past few months, Deutsche Telekom and the satellite operator Inmarsat have established the European Aviation Network (EAN) , which allows passengers to access the Internet via LTE during their flight. As the journal iX reports , the technology enables much shorter latencies of about 60 to 90 ms compared to the satellite connections used so far, the clients on board share a bandwidth of 75 Mbit/s for downloading and 20 Mbit/s for uploading.
The EAN combines a satellite with ground-based connections. Telekom has distributed 300 base stations across Europe, which were preferably set up at elevated locations. The usual cruising altitude of up to 12,000 meters corresponds to the range that is also common in mobile networks on the ground. Nevertheless, the LTE technology still has to be adapted for the application in aircrafts, since it is usually designed only for speeds up to 350 km/h. The aircraft, in turn, require two antennas at the bottom and top of their fuselage, logging in automatically to the satellite or one of the ground stations, depending on the quality of the connection.
British Airways wants to offer a WLAN service over EAN in the coming weeks as one of the first airlines to do so. Lufthansa is expected to follow in autumn 2018.