Arinc in talks with Panasonic over Cabin Connect pairings

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Arinc is in talks with Panasonic Avionics to collaborate on offering its new Inmarsat SwiftBroadband-supported in-flight wi-fi solution, Cabin Connect, with some of the IFEC giant's products.

"We've been talking to Panasonic for a long while about different ways that we can work with them. We are really looking at [having] options where we integrate with them. Or there is another option that [sees a] configuration where we connect directly to the satcom so that we can sit alongside the in-flight entertainment," David Harrold, an executive with Arinc, told ATI last week at the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) conference and exhibition in Seattle.

Unveiled at APEX, Cabin Connect is being billed as a simple connectivity system that allows airlines to easily and inexpensively bring in-flight wi-fi to passengers, since many aircraft already carry the lion's share of necessary kit or will do so in the future.

"SwiftBroadband is in the process of certification for safety [services]. So, from the point of view of the operator, you're looking at the same antenna, the same RF equipment. You've got to have it anyway to communicate with the cockpit," said Harrold, adding that "once you're there, for a very small additional [amount of equipment], now you've got a hotspot for the passengers. You've got real-time connectivity to the Internet so you can start doing things like credit card authorisation in real time."

At present, SwiftBroadband offers a data transfer rate of up to 432kbps per channel. However, Inmarsat has an upgrade path for the service, which will be implemented at the end of next year and bring the speed to 700kbps.

Arinc, meanwhile, is also "doing a number of things to improve the service", including compressing the data going through the SwiftBroadband pipe, said Harrold

He added that, on the ground at Arinc's data centre, the company is putting a "large amount of computing power" at the issue of speed "so in real time, we are making the images a bit smaller [and] blocking some of the adverts", a service that is customisable to the airline's needs and requirements.