In-Flight Netflix Streaming Could Become a Reality Thanks to New Satellite Launch

By James O Malley on at

The final satellite to complete the rollout out Inmarsat's new Global Xpress network has blasted off in Kazakhstan and once in orbit, will enable faster global connections from anywhere on the planet.

Inmarsat operated global telecommunications satellites for ages - but the existing "L-band" satellite network has meant rather slow data connections. The new network is better equipped for modern times, and is capable of offering faster connections and lower prices - not to mention make the company $500m a year in revenue.

What this means for normal consumers like us is that we could soon see better broadband popping up in more remote places around the globe - making it easier to stay in touch next time you're hiking up Mount Everest. Or perhaps more realistically, and potentially most lucratively for Inmarsat: improved in-flight wifi, which using current technologies is generally a bit crap. The new network can apparently deliver speeds of up to 60Mb/s to a 60cm satellite dish.

To make the latter happen, airlines will have to stump up the cash to Inmarsat, and pay for kit to connect to so-called "Ka-band" technologies. Apparently the company is already in talks with "over a dozen" airlines, and first Global Xpress airline connections could launch early next year.

With this final launch the company now has completed its global network of three satellites - though it is currently building and testing a fourth, to serve as a back-up which will be ready to blast off if anything happens to the ones out in space. Inmarsat apparently already handles communications for over 100 countries, and its largest customer is the US Department of Defense.

The first satellite for Global Xpress launched in December 2013, with commercial operations beginning in July last year.

Today's launch was on board am unmanned Russian Proton rocket, which had been delayed following the last Proton rocket exploding on launch back at the start of July. [The Star and BBC]