Ensure land-quality wifi

January 29, 2019

A third of passengers insist inflight wifi must be as good as they get on the ground. Richard Williams asks satellite operator SES how to deliver just that

Establish your network
SES has a diverse fleet of geostationary (GEO) satellites and a non-geostationary (NGSO) constellation in medium earth orbit (MEO) designed to meet the fast-growing demand for inflight connectivity. Senior vp of aero market solutions, Aditya Chatterjee, explains: “We believe the aero industry is entering a new era of intelligent connectivity where each aircraft will be provided with a software-based ever-adaptive connectivity pipe irrespective of its route. Capacity will then be allocated as needed based on passenger demands. This is why we are investing in more high-powered multi-orbit, multi-band satellite capacity, giving the faster internet speeds that support bandwidth-hungry apps and services onboard.”

Evolve to meet need
Recently launched high-throughput satellites coupled with established wide beam coverage will enable airlines to tailor connectivity to demand. Live TV/sport is best delivered over wide beams while the HTS beams are best for internet use. Emerging apps, gaming and virtual reality (VR) work best with lower latencies offered through SES’s O3b MEO constellation, and next-generation O3b mPOWER technology.

Land, sea and air
Chatterjee adds: “Today our O3b MEO fleet … has absolutely redefined connectivity for cruise ships and aero is next up as we… bring the ultra-low latency and ultra-high throughput of our O3b MEO constellation to market.

Incentivise the airlines
“The connected aircraft enables airlines to obtain better real-time information and improved fleet management; and with predictive analytics airlines can eliminate F&B waste, and refine their retail and meal inventories.”

Make it global
Looking ahead is key. Chatterjee adds: “We are bringing more multi-orbit, multi-band capacity to market, with the launch of the high-throughput (HTS) SES-17 and the O3b mPOWER constellation scheduled for 2021. This will support Thales’ FlytLIVE connectivity, enabling social media, and streaming on a global scale.”


• GEO satellites are located 22,000 miles over earth

• SES-17 and the O3b mPOWER constellation are to launch in 2021

• The NGSO O3b constellation is in medium earth orbit (MEO), at 5,000 miles above the earth

• The new SES-14, SES-15 and SES-12 are all equipped with high throughput capabilities