APEX: OnAir to offer live television via Global Xpress

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OnAir has become the first dirstibution partner to officially sign up for Inmarsat's Global Xpress network, which will enable it to provide live television to commercial airline passengers.

"We are delighted to be working with Inmarsat to bring passengers the next-generation of in-flight connectivity, with the introduction of live TV being one of the highlights," says OnAir chief executive Ian Dawkins.

OnAir - a joint venture between Airbus and SITA - is the first of two Global Xpress distribution partners to sign an official contract with Inmarsat for the Ka-band network.

The Geneva-based company says it has started to garner launch customers for upcoming Ka-based connectivity services.

Global Xpress will provide higher transmission speeds than current L-band and Ku-band-based connectivity, with downlink speeds of 50Mbps and uplink speeds of 4.4Mbps.

OnAir currently uses Inmarsat SwiftBroadband for its Internet OnAir wi-fi and Mobile OnAir services, the latter allows passengers to make calls, receive text messages and use data and e-mail services on their phones.

Inmarsat announced OnAir and Illinois-based Gogo as providers for Global Xpress in November 2011. While OnAir is the first to officially firm up its contract as a distribution partner for the Ka-band service, the first airline and distribution partner to start operating aircraft equipped with the system has yet to be finalised, in part due to the developmental status of the network.

Inmarsat says Global Xpress will be operational with round-the-world coverage for commercial airlines from early 2015. The first I-5 satellite in the constellation offering capacity for the service will launch in the third quarter of 2013, with the next two scheduled for deployment in 2014.