Annapolis, Maryland-based ARNIC has signed a letter of intent with Virgin Atlantic Airways to supply its new Cabin Connect on-board Wi-Fi solution. Virgin Atlantic is the first customer to sign up for the new offering and will introduce the service to its passengers on a trial basis on three Airbus A330 aircrafts, starting in early 2013.
“We are especially delighted that Virgin Atlantic Airways, a long-term ARINC (News - Alert) customer for more than 12 years, is the first company to confirm it will take Cabin Connect on trial,” said Lee Costin, director of ARINC’s Satellite Solutions and Cabin Services.
ARNIC's Cabin Connect enables airline passengers to access the Internet directly from their own Wi-Fi enabled devices, such as a smartphone, tablet, laptop or gaming device. Airplane passengers simply log onto the system through a hotspot portable to use the service in flight.
Inmarsat (News - Alert) SwiftBroadband provides the long-haul satellite broadband connection for the network in-flight.
ARNIC and Virgin Atlantic previously teamed up to pioneer ARNIC's Live News content, a service delivered over SwiftBroadband that provides passengers with real-time information such as breaking news, weather, sports, entertainment and business events.
The Live News service can be customized by airlines to determine the volume of news each aircraft can manage, filter stories and even deliver airline information in the event of an emergency.
The Inmarsat SwiftBroadband service, the backbone of ARNIC's airline information offerings, is an IP-based packet service providing seamless oceanic satellite coverage through Inmarsat's network. Key features of SwiftBroadband include simultaneous voice and broadband data, with data rates of up to 432 kbps; on-demand data stream at rates of 32, 64 and 128 kbps; GPRS, UMTS and ISDN compatibility; 1 to 4 data channels currently available; and compatibility with government-grade encryption and secure communications standards.
SwiftBroadband also enables cockpit applications, including telephony, text messaging, e-mail, Internet and intranet access, as well as flight plan, weather, and chart updates – the latter set more increasingly important as airlines start integrating tablets into daily flight operations to replace paper in order to cut down on weight to save fuel.
ARNIC should have more customers coming in moving forward. Broadband Internet available via Wi-Fi in the cabin is now seen as a key feature to deliver entertainment to passengers in a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model, while airlines can pick up some extra money by charging for real-time Internet access above and beyond simple streaming delivery.
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Edited by Braden Becker