What is the Alliance for Passenger Connectivity, which boasts several members, including Arinc, AeroMobile, Panasonic, ViaSat, Rockwell Collins and others?
The alliance’s web site says it is a “coalition of companies dedicated to enabling passengers and crew on board aircraft to stay connected while in flight” and that it will “also serve to aid regulators in understanding existing regional and international precedent for facilitating introduction of passenger connectivity solutions”.
That’s a bit vague. Surely there is more to it than that? I put my question to a number of very clued in IFE&C folks, and here is what I’ve been able to come up with by way of a response. I’ve paraphrased the comments for your reading ease.
The Alliance for Passenger Connectivity hopes to provide a one-stop-shop to countries that are not yet knowledgeable about Ku-band-based connectivity. If, for example, you are a regulator in Kenya and an airline is planning to offer Ku-band-based connectivity in your airspace or directly in your country, you may not have any idea there is an ITU-R recommendation – M.1643 – that describes some baseline requirements for FSS aircraft earth stations in the 14-14.6 GHz band (that’s the Ku-band for the few non-nerdlingers reading this blog).
So the various service providers applying for that could tell the regulator: ‘You can check out this site and it has all the information’. Rather than going to the ITU web site and looking for the specific recommendations, you can go to the Alliance for Passenger Connectivity and look at how other regulatory bodies have treated such requests.
The Kenyan regulator could look and see what everyone else has done, and decide if it is reasonable to permit such a service in its own country. If the alliance wasn’t there, Kenya and other nations in Africa, South America and other parts of the third world would have to do a lot more digging.
Any of the more active countries in the regulatory process probably already have this information closer to their fingertips (especially if they had active Connexion by Boeing-equipped planes flying from or in their airspace in years past).
During the recent WAEA connectivity workshop in Everett, Panasonic said it has secured licenses for its Ku-band solution, eXConnect, in over 150 countries. There are around 200 countries in the world, give or take, so Panasonic is saying it has approvals in a big ole chunk.
But one of the things that some of these little countries do, because they don’t have all the rules and regulations in place, or manpower to support putting the rules in place, is to simply not respond to service providers’ requests to operate in the Ku band. If a service provider doesn’t hear back from the country in 90 days, it sends out another letter, and if it still doesn’t get a response, it assumes it is ‘good to go’ in that country. (I’m told that this practice isn’t sneaky or out of the ordinary, and that it was a path paved by CBB.)
There are plenty of countries where one does need to get an approval, however. That includes the USA. Row 44 recently received permanent authority from the regulator, for example.
So what is the Alliance for Passenger Connectivity? It appears to be a tool to promote regulatory approval for global Ku-band service. Doesn’t it?