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WAEA2008: Panasonic reveals antenna provider for eXConnect

Panasonic Avionics has selected EMS Technologies to supply the antenna for its new Ku band-based connectivity service, eXConnect, and a new global television product.

Although the partnership is non-exclusive, Panasonic director of strategic product marketing David Bruner reveals that the company has made a "large volume commitment" with EMS that will cover a number of years.

"It doesn't say that we wouldn't purchase another antenna from another supplier," he says.

The antenna will support eXConnect and Panasonic's new television service, dubbed the Panasonic Airline Television Network. Bruner says the network will be much broader than Panasonic's current live programming offering, which can be found on Delta Air Lines aircraft.

Because every aircraft equipped for Panasonic broadband will be TV-capable from day one, Bruner believes that take-up by airlines of both services will be robust.

More details about Panasonic's global live television plans will be released as the company moves closer to an initial summer 2009 rollout. In the meantime, Panasonic is working to strike deals with the owners of individual news and entertainment channels, such as the BBC.

The company previously picked Starling Advanced Communication as a non-exclusive antenna partner in eXConnect but requested performance improvements to the firm's fuselage-mounted Mijet antenna as well as from other would-be suppliers.

Starling later inked a memorandum of agreement with a division of EMS Technologies to develop a new "competitive ultra-fast" Ku-band airborne antenna system that will be targeted at the US commercial airline market. It is not immediately clear if Starling is involved in the latest Panasonic arrangement.

EMS direct broadcast satellite (DBS) antenna systems, sold through JetBlue Airways subsidiary LiveTV, currently deliver multiple channels of live television programming to passengers flying on the US low-cost operator, Canadian carrier WestJet Airlines and other airlines.

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