Ofcom planning to allow faster broadband for air, sea and train passengers

Ofcom is set to allow air passengers and other travellers on trains and ships to access fast broadband connectivity through new ground to satellite systems.

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Ofcom is set to allow air passengers and other travellers on trains and ships to access fast broadband connectivity through new ground to satellite systems.

The communications regulator is consulting on regulations that cover the use of Earth Stations on Mobile Platforms (ESOMPs).

Several satellite operators are planning to launch commercial satellite networks in 2013/2014 that support the use of ESOMPs transmitting in the frequency band 27.5 30 GHz and receiving in the band 17.3 20.2 GHz.

"To facilitate the take up of these new innovative services, we are proposing to introduce a regulatory framework to allow their use," Ofcom said.

As the frequency bands proposed are not used by any terrestrial radio systems in the UK, and are already available for other types of satellite earth stations - including Permanent Earth Stations and High Density Fixed Satellite Service (HDFSS) deployments - there's plenty of room and bandwidth to offer passengers.

The new technology could deliver connections up to ten times faster than the limited services currently available to flyers and other travellers. WiFi services to air passengers are only offered by a small number of airlines and mobile network and WiFi connections on trains travelling through rural areas can be regularly curtailed.

The faster ground to satellite services are dependent of course on whether airlines, cruise companies and train companies pay to access such satellite services, with usage charges inevitably levied to all but the most premium travellers.

Carriers offering such services would have to fit hardware on their fleets to receive the bandwidth shared among their passengers.