DT, Inmarsat and Tampnet use oil rigs to improve inflight connectivity

The European Aviation Network (EAN) inflight broadband solution uses terrestrial base stations, of which there are few in the middle of the sea.

So, counter-intuitive though it might seem at first, it makes sense to stick macro cells on oil rigs to help resolve all manner of maritime and aviation connectivity challenges. Inmarsat has been a major advocate of the EAN for some time and, in this case, teamed up with Deutsche Telekom and offshore connectivity specialist Tampnet to extend mobile coverage across the North Sea.

The initiative consists of five EAN sites on production platforms in the North Sea, while two additional antenna sites are being placed in offshore wind farms within Germany’s and the Netherlands’ coastal waters. So now the dark days of being unable to check the footy scores on the flight back from an Amsterdam stag are finally behind us.

“The European Aviation Network is well established as the continent’s fastest inflight broadband solution, available to millions of passengers on short and medium haul flights with British Airways, Iberia, Vueling and AEGEAN,” said Philippe Carette, President of Inmarsat Aviation.

“For airlines, it has played an important role in enhancing the onboard experience, unlocking new revenue opportunities and instilling greater confidence in air travel. This latest enhancement coincides with the third anniversary of the service being offered to passengers by our airline customers, with passenger usage at record highs following the pandemic.”

“With the installation of eight more antenna sites in and around the North Sea, we are proud to bring additional network capacity to an already exceptional connectivity service,” said Rolf Nafziger, SVP of DT Global Carrier. “The European Aviation Network gives European aviation a global advantage: Airlines get high speed and scalable connectivity with low operating costs and pan-European coverage. Passengers get a seamless service that is as good as a broadband connection on the ground.”

“Going forward, Tampnet will support the project by delivering fibre backhaul and maintenance to the base stations providing additional coverage to the airspace above the North Sea,” said Elie Hanna, CEO of Tampnet. “The fact that the network is fully supported by our subsea network ensures its scalability for future capacity needs.”

It’s not immediately obvious why they shoe-horned Inmarsat into this particular announcement (shared by DT), since it doesn’t seem to concern satellite connectivity at all. The answer seems to be that the underlying aim of it is to promote the EAN, which attempts to resolve the unique coverage challenges of inflight cellular connectivity through a combination ground and satellite base stations. Inmarsat is keen to closely align its Orchestra constellation with the EAN, so that’s probably why it got a mention.


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