Deutsche Telekom, Alcatel-Lucent test in-flight broadband service based on LTE
Deutsche Telekom, Alcatel-Lucent and Airbus have successfully tested direct data communication using LTE technology, between an aircraft and a wireless network on the ground. When commercial, this solution will be able to provide in-flight mobile voice and broadband data communications services cost-effectively.
These tests represent the first steps on the road toward future commercial implementation of in-flight wireless services for passengers over continental Europe leveraged by a terrestrial cellular LTE network. Current solutions target international routes and are based on satellite systems. These can now be supplemented with a number of improvements.
The first flight test took place in November 2011 over the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. It is a part of the joint R&D project between Airbus, Alcatel-Lucent and the Innovation Laboratories of Deutsche Telekom. Airbus provided an A320 test aircraft equipped with test equipment and Alcatel-Lucent was responsible for the overall technical solution. This included an “onboard unit” installed in the test aircraft to send and receive mobile data signals, for which Alcatel-Lucent developed special algorithms. On the ground, Alcatel-Lucent provided its end-to-end LTE solution including radio access and core network. Deutsche Telekom prepared a ground network of two base stations positioned about 100 kilometres apart. The base stations were connected to Alcatel-Lucent’s LTE test center in Stuttgart via Deutsche Telekom’s data transport network.