VIDEO: Virgin Atlantic reveals in-flight connectivity plan

Screen shot 2010-06-16 at 6.38.13 PM.pngIt has been a Virgin sort of week. So much so that I’m nearly ready to reclaim my own virginity (not :)  

Seriously, though, Virgin Atlantic’s deal with Panasonic Avionics to bring in-flight connectivity to its fleet is interesting on a number of levels. 

For starters, Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson and CEO Steve Ridgway have made clear that they want passengers to be able to experience in the air what they experience on the ground, and they are letting Panasonic – and the firm’s AeroMobile partner – deal with the particulars. 

Those particulars include working with airframers on making the solution line-fit offerable (AeroMobile and Panasonic have been trying for years and they are hopeful in achieving this goal), and on deciding if Ku-band or Ka-band-based connectivity will ultimately be fitted to Virgin’s aircraft.

Initially, however, Panasonic is tasked with bringing Inmarsat SwiftBroadband-supported in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) systems, together with AeroMobile in-flight mobile connectivity, to Virgin Atlantic passengers in the near-term (first the carrier’s new Airbus A330s, then the Boeing 747s and then the new Boeing 787 twinjets). 

Branson notes that road warriors could accomplish several more hours of work during flight if they had high-speed Internet at their beck and call. Just serve up that connectivity with a nice, cold drink, okay? And no Virgin strawberry daiquiris, please!

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4 Responses to VIDEO: Virgin Atlantic reveals in-flight connectivity plan

  1. alloycowboy June 17, 2010 at 7:13 pm #

    Hey Mary,

    Do you think Panasonic’s technology is mature enough to meet Virgin’s requirements or do you think Virgin is being a little to anticipatory?

  2. Mary Kirby June 17, 2010 at 10:55 pm #

    Yes, absolutely, Panasonic has the technology to fit the bill. Panasonic’s eXConnect high-speed Internet system – plus the eXPhone mobile connectivity system – will go live on Lufthansa in the near term. When that happens, it will really set the bar for in-flight connectivity on international flights. Bringing this higher-bandwidth service to passengers isn’t cheap, though, and requires retrofitting aircraft with a large antenna. I don’t think Virgin is prepared to do that just yet, but it kept driving home the fact that it has a “three year” plan for “full connectivity”.

  3. Paul van Dijk June 21, 2010 at 7:36 am #


    Very nice all this inboard stuuf but how will the plane be connected to the satellite.
    Will Panasonic provide a big satellite dish to connect or do they have a slim phased array antenna and how many TV channels can I choose from….. I donot want to miss the live soccer match and see the Dutch team win the world cup.

    Great Stuff !

  4. Len June 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    Bang goes another sanctuary.
    Can you imagine sitting next to an arrogant Type A or effusive gum-chewing teenager yacking on a smartphone all the way from London to Johannesburg.
    OMG! Bring on the silent zones. In every bloody class.

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