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Ofcom Approve 10 Times Faster Broadband for UK Aircraft, Ships and Trains

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 (10:57 am) - Score 571

Ofcom has today given the “green light” to the introduction of a new regulatory framework that will support the launch of “up to 10-times fasterSatellite-based broadband technology (i.e. a maximum speed of 50Mbps to a single earth station or more than 10Mbps to an individual passenger) on moving vehicles like Trains, Aircraft and Ships.

It’s already possible to access the Internet on many moving vehicles, although the current service speeds can be painfully slow and some areas lack the necessary wifi or Mobile Broadband coverage in order to support the connections.

As a result Ofcom has moved to make 4,128MHz worth of spectrum available (27.5 to 27.8185GHz [transmit], 28.4545 to 28.8265GHz [transmit], 29.4625 to 30GHz [transmit] and 17.3 to 20.2GHz [receive]) to a new generation of commercial spacecraft that can deliver the aforementioned service.

The higher frequencies, when combined with the very latest antennas, should provide more bandwidth than existing systems and this means faster speeds will be possible.

Philip Marnick, Ofcoms Group Director of Spectrum, said:

We want travellers to benefit from superfast broadband on the move at the kind of speeds they expect from their connection at home. Today’s decision means that operators of trains, boats and planes will soon be able to begin the process of making these valuable services available to their passengers.”

It’s understood that devices (i.e. Earth Stations) that are mounted on land-based vehicles (ESOMP), such as trains, will be made exempt from the need for a spectrum licence altogether. But earth stations mounted on aircraft or ships will still need to be licensed by Ofcom, through a variation of the Aircraft Radio licence, because these vehicles are capable of crossing into other countries’ jurisdictions.

Similarly licensing of ship-mounted earth stations, administered by Ofcom, will be effected through a variation of the Ship Radio licence. The changes to aircraft and ship licences could be completed in February 2014, while the land-based vehicles adjustment will be concluded by summer 2014. As a result the first commercial deployments of the technology on vehicles in the UK are likely to “begin later this year“.

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