If you’re among the industry execs who took a ride on 26 January on a Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) fitted with Panasonic Avionics’ Ku-band satellite-based in-flight broadband Internet system, then you already know that the carrier’s IPTV service, dubbed eXTV, is working like a charm.
One of the happy passengers tells me that Slingbox, Netflix and Skype were tested on multiple devices and worked really well. That doesn’t mean that 150 passengers on one aircraft can simultaneously do those things (no sir-e Bob!) but nonetheless, it was a pretty impressive show.
So what does Panasonic have to say for itself? The firm says its so-called eXConnect in-flight connectivity service successfully delivered a live television feed to the BBJ on 26 January, and that it “successfully tested and demonstrated” that its system can support Slingbox, Netflix and Skype.
These specific applications technically aren’t part of the firm’s eXTV service (which runs over eXConnect), however, and most will be disallowed based on airline preference, regulatory requirements (groan), or for pure network management purposes (i.e. it’s no different than any of the other in-flight connectivity services).
A number of carriers, including Cathay Pacific and its Dragonair subsidiary, have signed up for eXTV. So what can passengers expect once on board?
Well, when Panasonic talks about eXTV, it is talking about very specific live television channels such as Japan’s NHK World Premium and IMG Worldwide’s Barclays Premier League Content.
I think you can sum up some of the demand for in-flight IPTV with two words – sports, sports and news (okay, that’s three). Indeed, Lufthansa has said it wants to show German soccer to its passengers and Virgin Atlantic’s Richard Branson has said he hopes Virgin will offer live coverage of the World Cup in 2014.
Panasonic bills eXTV as offering “the only global solution to address the bandwidth and licensing rights constraints that have traditionally hindered in-flight television services”.
In other words – here comes international in-flight television!
“We are very excited by the results of our first eXTV test flight because it clearly proves the concept and demonstrates the robust performance of our TV solution,” says Panasonic Avionics vice-president, global communications suite David Bruner. “Not only can we deliver a quality, live television feed, but we can do it using the same antenna and using the same network as our global eXConnect service.”
The BBJ is fitted with a new EMS antenna (not the older MELCO antennas on 69 Lufthansa aircraft).
(Photo above – which was snapped way back in 2005 – can be found at jsmjr’s Flickr photo stream.)
Slingbox, Netflix successfully tested on Panasonic-fitted BBJ
By Mary Kirby on January 31, 2011 in Air Transport, In-flight Entertainment/Communications, Mobile Applications, Original Equipment Manufacturers
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