A 60GHz standard will enable wireless in-flight entertainment say researchers

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A 60GHz wireless system that can transmit data for high-definition television and fast internet access could be used aboard aircraft, say researchers in Germany and Sweden.

Wireless distribution of internet and in-flight entertainment services would allow seat-to-seat cabling to be removed from aircraft. The cabling adds mass to the aircraft and complexity in assembly.

Boeing had planned wireless IFE supply for its 787 programme, but dropped it due to concerns that its 5GHz frequency would struggle to win regulatory approval. But researchers say 60GHz is a super-high frequency, operating at billions of cycles per second. It is classed as a microwave and would not conflict with on-board systems.

In comparison, very-high frequency, commonly used for radio communications, operates at millions of cycles per second.

Researchers at Sweden's Chalmers University of Technology and the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute in Berlin do not expect any great difficulties in creating a 60GHz wireless standard. They think the existing wireless standard 802.11g, which provides a 2.4GHz datalink, would only require minor modifications to deliver a 60GHz service.

Previous work with 60GHz transmissions had faced problems with data transfer between receivers and transmitters, where objects passing in front of antennas blocked the signal. To overcome this, researchers used a technique called Multiple Input Multiple Output.

This uses several transmitters and receivers with a slight time delay between transmissions of the same signal. When received by the different antennas the signals are spliced together using algorithms to obtain the correct information.