Arinc's onboard Internet offering harnesses SwiftBroadband

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An in-flight Internet offering that has been developed to take advantage of Inmarsat's higher-bandwidth aeronautical service, SwiftBroadband, is expected to be fully completed by Arinc in November.

Dubbed Oi for Onboard Internet, Arinc's latest solution for passenger communication services uses a combination of cached and live content and data to offer news, sports, radio bulletins, web browsing, e-mail, instant messenger, podcasts and VPN access.

The most trafficked Internet sites will be offered. Arinc partner Inflight Productions is brokering agreements with these sites.

However airlines will be able to configure the offering to meet their own individual requirements, notes Colette Parks, satellite applications program director, aviation solutions for Arinc.

Passengers will be able to access Oi via personal laptops as well as WAP-enabled personal electronic devices. Arinc is also working with in-flight entertainment (IFE) platform makers to offer Oi through seatback entertainment systems. Credit card information will be required for passengers to access chargeable services.

While Oi can be installed on narrowbody and widebody aircraft, Arinc is targeting international widebodies that are "committed to Inmarsat", says Parks.

Inmarsat on 18 August confirmed the successful launch and acquisition of the third Inmarsat-4 satellite. With this launch, the satellite network provider's SwiftBroadband service will be accessible worldwide - except the extreme polar regions.

"As Arinc is a SwiftBroadband service provider, it was logical that our passenger applications would take advantage of the higher connectivity speeds," says Andy Hubbard, Arinc senior director, satellite solutions.

"We have included more content that our airlines and their passengers want, such as special events, news round-ups, and sports highlights. In addition, the unique Oi credit card payment feature opens a whole new level of sales and a potential revenue stream."

Oi can also be adapted to work over Inmarsat Swift64, however.

Separately, Arinc offers a Ku-band satellite broadband service for business jets called SKYLink, which provides broadband links of up to 3.5Mb/s for aircraft equipped with Rockwell Collins' eXchange product line.

The two firms last year lost a bid to provide Ku band-based broadband connectivity to Southwest Airlines' fleet of Boeing 737s.

Arinc has "no firm plans to put it [SKYLink] out to the commercial [market] yet," says Parks, adding: "It hasn't been a key focus at the moment."

Parks points out that while there has been a shift in interest in the United States to Ku-band offerings, other key regions, including Asia, the Middle East and Africa "are still about trusted Inmarsat".

However, she adds: "I can't see us just stopping at Swiftbroadband [but] I don't think anything moves quickly in this market."