Mobile World Congress: High-speed cell roaming on airplanes via OneWeb
Airbus, Delta, OneWeb, Sprint, and Bharti Airtel ("Airtel") announced the formation of the Seamless Air Alliance at Mobile World Congress today. In its press release, SAA says it will be able to provide high speed, low latency connectivity from ground, to air and back again, significantly reduce costs for everyone involved while creating a smooth, positive user-experience.
"What if the best internet you ever experienced was in the air? Keeping this goal in mind, together, we will enable an affordable and frictionless experience for passengers everywhere," said Greg Wyler, Founder and Executive Chairman of OneWeb. "With the launch of our first production satellites set for later this year, we're one step closer to bridging the global Digital Divide on land and in the air."
Part of SAA's pitch is the development of open specifications for interoperability, but the power behind the idea is OneWeb's low earth orbit (LEO) satellite network scheduled to start offering service in 2019. OneWeb's global constellation of over 900 low-flying satellites will be able to provide connectivity to aircraft with latency in the tens of milliseconds, far shorter than the nearly half second added on by traditional GEO communications satellites.
Cost savings are expected in streamlining system integration and certification, along with enabling simple and integrated billing.
The initial partners shouldn't be a total surprise. Airbus is an investor in OneWeb as well as a manufacturer of both commercial passenger jets and partner in OneWeb's satellite factory being built in Florida. Airtel is also an investor in OneWeb while SoftBank owns Sprint and has invested in OneWeb.
Delta says its existing in-flight Internet partner (supplier) Gogo will be joining SAA in the future, but there's also a quote at the bottom of the release where Gogo CEO says, "As the market-leader in inflight connectivity, Gogo is excited to join the Seamless Alliance. We look forward to working with the Alliance to develop future generations of inflight connectivity, which will provide airline passengers worldwide with simple, fast and reliable connectivity"