The Reporter (Addis Ababa)

26 April 2014

Ethiopian Eyes Onair Connectivity

The Ethiopian Airlines is undertaking a study on air internet and mobile phone connectivity.

A senior official with Ethiopian told The Reporter that the airline wants to install Wi-Fi and mobile phone services on its aircraft. "We are conducting studies on air connectivity," the official said. OnAir connectivity system enables passengers to log on the internet and use their mobile phones. Ethiopian wants to install the system on its Boeing B777 and B787 fleets.

The inflight Wi-Fi solution enables passengers to email, update their social media, and browse news sites. Like a Wi-Fi hotspot on the ground, passengers only need to log on and their enter credit card details before they are free to surf the Internet.

Passengers can also use inflight GSM product to email, text, talk, and use their mobile apps as they please. Charges are included in the user's monthly phone bill, exactly like using international roaming.

Reliable sources told The Reporter that IT experts of Ethiopian are studying the possibility that the airline could install OnAir connectivity on its modern fleet. Sources said senior officials of Ethiopian were holding talks with a renowned IT solutions provider to the air transport world, SITA. SITA is a renowned OnAir air connectivity system provider. In 2005 SITA established a company called OnAir that provides on air connectivity technology to carriers. Recently TAAG Angola Airlines became OnAir's first Sub-Saharan African customer - line fitting its new B777-300ER fleet with Internet OnAir and Mobile OnAir. The airline will use Thales' TopConnect to access OnAir's inflight Wi-Fi and mobile phone services on its new fleet, to be delivered from May 2014.

SITA says OnAir offers a consistent, reliable service across Africa and all other major routes across the world, thanks to the widest-reaching network of regulatory approvals and the largest and most geographically diverse number of roaming agreements of any provider.

With authorizations from over 100 countries and more than 375 roaming agreements, OnAir provides consistent coverage on all the major routes across the world. In addition, OnAir uses Inmarsat's SwiftBroadband satellite network, the only network to provide worldwide coverage.

OnAir sets the benchmark for global inflight connectivity solutions, with over 60 customers on five continents. We are the only provider to offer consistent global coverage for both inflight GSM and Wi-Fi services, thanks to regulatory approvals from over 100 countries, and more than 375 roaming agreements.

OnAir's products enable passengers to use their own mobile phones, smartphones, tablets and laptops in exactly the same way as they do on the ground, either through the onboard GSM network or the onboard Wi-Fi hotspot. OnAir also provides on-demand entertainment content, such as music, videos, newspapers and magazines. The products are available as linefit or retrofit for all commercial aircraft, as well as government, VIP and business jets. OnAir products operate over all satellite links.

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