Inmarsat - a global mobile satellite communications - has signed a Heads of Terms (HoT) agreement with Beijing Marine Communication & Navigation Company (MCN).
The agreement will see the creation of a joint venture to provide aircraft cabin and cockpit connectivity solutions in China's commercial aviation market.
The Inmarsat services that would be provided through the joint venture include Global Xpress (GX) Aviation and SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S). The final agreement is expected to be signed later this year.
According to Inmarsat, GX Aviation is the world's first broadband in-flight connectivity solution with seamless, end-to-end global coverage. It will enable passengers to browse the Internet, use social media, stream online videos, download files and more using their smartphones, tablets and other Wi-Fi enabled devices, with a similar quality of service in the air as they would receive on the ground.
On the other hand, SB-S is a cyber secure flight deck communication platform that enables airlines to meet the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) mandate for sub-15 minute tracking of all aircraft, Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC)'s four-minute mandate, Automatic Dependent Surveillance and electronic flight bag updates. Combining L-band satellite connectivity with advanced avionics, it delivers speeds 10 times faster than existing Classic Aero services to provide airlines with cockpit communications for the digital age.
This is not the first time that Inmarsat is working together with MCN. MCN has been an Inmarsat partner since it was founded by China's Ministry of Transportation in 1979. It unveiled an initial framework for the aviation joint venture with Inmarsat last year, while signing an agreement to bring the high-speed GX connectivity service to commercial and public sector organisations in China's maritime, enterprise and government markets.
Inmarsat also has an office and demonstration lab in Beijing, equipped with various terminals and solutions to support product demonstrations and end-user training. A satellite access station, owned and operated by MCN, is also located in the capital and exclusively handles all traffic from China over the Inmarsat network.
"Together, Inmarsat and MCN have been supporting important developments in the Chinese aviation industry for some time," said Song Zhen, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for MCN.
"Air China, for instance, operated the country's first flight equipped with in-flight connectivity in 2013, using Inmarsat's SwiftBroadband to power the service on board its Airbus A330 between Beijing and Chengdu. With the introduction of next generation solutions, such as GX Aviation and SwiftBroadband-Safety, it is the perfect time to strengthen our partnership with a joint venture that is committed to ensuring China has access to the latest connectivity technology," added Song.
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