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Aircell plans to step up to LTE ultra-broadband – Shephard Group

July 17, 2008 – AIRCELL says it will evolve the terrestrial broadband system currently being trialled by American Airlines to incorporate LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology, the ultra-broadband last stop in the present GSM roadmap.

The Colorado-based air-to-ground communications provider’s new Aircell Mobile Broadband Network (AMBN) and Gogo service for airlines are based on the EV-DO Rev A cellular standard and are designed to deliver single-figure megabits into the aircraft. LTE is intended to support downloads at speeds in the 100-200Mbit/sec range to cellular user devices on the ground.

“LTE will ensure we can support the services passengers will demand in the future, helping our airline customers to stay competitive as services become more complex and demand more bandwidth,” says Aircell chief technology officer Joe Cruz. Among the new IFE possibilities foreseen are high-definition and interactive television and multi-player immersive gaming.

Cruz expects the potential huge expansion in bandwidth to generate a whole new range of operational benefits. “Airline operations will also benefit from this 4G technology, which will support a wide array of powerful applications such as high-resolution graphical weather to the flight deck,” he says.

“The 4G market is still evolving but one thing is for sure – passengers will want the same mobile broadband services in the air that they have on the ground,” Cruz continues. “With LTE, our inflight Internet technology is future-proofed.”

Aircell plans to deploy LTE by the beginning of 2011. In the meantime, the company expects further advances in EV-DO to boost AMBN performance to up to 22Mbit/sec to the aircraft by the end of next year.