Inmarsat has confirmed the successful launch and acquisition of the third Inmarsat-4 satellite.
Inmarsat launched the first two I-4 satellites in 2005. With this latest achievement, the satellite network provider's new, higher-bandwidth aeronautical service, SwiftBroadband, will be accessible worldwide - except the extreme polar regions.
"The Inmarsat-4s are the world's most sophisticated commercial network for mobile voice and data services, and the successful launch of the third I-4 allows us to complete the global coverage for our broadband services," says Inmarsat chairman and CEO Andrew Sukawaty.
"Once the third I-4 is operational, Inmarsat will have the only fully-funded next-generation network for mobile satellite services."
The satellite will now undergo a period of deployment and several weeks of comprehensive tests and manoeuvres before being positioned in geostationary orbit at 98º West.
In-flight connectivity provider OnAir is offering a SwiftBroadband-based GSM solution.
On 2 April Air France started the voice element of ongoing trials during commercial flights across Europe on an Airbus A318.
Irish budget carrier Ryanair is readying to begin a trial of the service. Other international carriers have committed to the OnAir solution.
(Photo care of Inmarsat)