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Emirates Pioneering Arctic Broadband Connection

Soon, long-haul passengers may be able to stay connected throughout their flight

August 6, 2019

While most in-flight internet is slow at best and, more typically, non-existent, whether over land or sea, Emirates is trying to change that and even go a bit further. Emirates’ passengers heading over the pole to the US will be able to enjoy Wi-Fi, mobile service connectivity and Live TV broadcast at 40,000 feet over the North Pole and Arctic circle starting in 2022.

The airline is pioneering this inflight connectivity, as passengers flying over the North Pole currently lose connectivity for as long as four hours. This is due to the fact that most satellites that connect aircraft are geostationary, located over the equator, and aircraft antennae cannot see the satellite when in the far north, due to the earth’s curvature.

Emirates partner Inmarsat is solving this problem with the addition of two elliptical orbit satellites, thus providing coverage over the North Pole by 2022.

The new satellites will also provide Live TV broadcast on Emirates flights allowing customers to watch live news or sports over the polar region. Emirates’ Live TV is currently available on 175 aircraft including all Boeing 777 and select Airbus 380s.

“Inmarsat has an extremely successful track record of working with Emirates to ensure their inflight connectivity requirements are met on a global basis, both in the cockpit and the cabin. We are delighted to continue that tradition with the rapid development of our Global Xpress (GX) satellite network. In the past month alone, we have announced even more capacity being added to the network with five additional payloads, including these latest two for flights over the northern latitudes and Arctic region. This is a great fit for Emirates and once again they have played an important role in our decision for these latest expansions,” said Philip Balaam, Inmarsat Aviation’s president.

Wi-Fi connectivity is available on all Emirates aircraft. Customers in all cabin classes receive 20MB of free Wi-Fi data or unlimited use of messaging apps for two hours allowing them to log on and stay in touch with friends, family or colleagues. According to Emirates an average of over one million Wi-Fi connections are made onboard the carrier’s flights each month.

Skywards Platinum and Gold members get unlimited data usage throughout the flight, regardless of class of travel, while all Skywards members traveling in first and business class also get free usage.