Emma Kelly/LONDON

UK telecommunications giant BT is selling its aeronautical, Inmarsat and VSAT(very small aperture terminal) activities to Canadian telecoms provider Stratos Global in a C$350 million ($238 million) deal.

The sale of BT Aeronautical and Maritime, due to be concluded by year-end, includes BT's in-flight entertainment (IFE) and communication services, and land Earth stations at Goonhilly, in southwest UK and Netley, New Zealand.

BT pioneered Inmarsat-based in-flight satellite communication (satcom) telephone services with Singapore Airlines in 1991, with airline customers including Austrian Airlines, Lauda Air, Malaysian Airlines, Sabena, Swissair and Virgin Atlantic. The Inmarsat service provider was also the first to offer interactive IFE services, launching its ALIS interactive services in 1995.

BT Aeronautical and Maritime had sales of £85 million ($120 million) in the year ended 31 March, employing 110 people, 70 of whom are expected to join Stratos, which provides wireless, internet protocol, data and voice communications to customers in remote locations.

• The recently renamed Inmarsat Ventures is joining the crowded live television IFE market through Airia, a joint venture with IFE company Live Inflight Video Entertainment. The move is part of Inmarsat's post-privatisation effort to broaden its activities. Airia aims to offer two channels of live news and sport to airline passengers from the third quarter of next year. Aircraft fitted with Inmarsat Aero-H/H+ satcom equipment (76% of all wide bodies) will be able to access the content via Inmarsat-3 satellites with the addition of two line replaceable units supplied by Ball Aerospace.

Airia joins Thomson-CSF Sextant's LiveTV, the Rockwell-Collins-led In-Flight Network, Boeing's Connexion and AirTV (which includes BAE Systems Canada and Alcatel Space) in planning to offer in-flight live TV.

• IFE specialist Spafax Airline Network has been bought by communications services specialist WPP. Spafax provides IFE content, media sales, publishing and information services to 60 airlines. WPP bought Spafax from UK media services group Pensa.

Source: Flight International