ViaSat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT) and Eutelsat Communications (NYSE Euronext Paris: ETL) continue to execute on their strategy to deliver high-quality satellite-based internet connectivity to the commercial air market in Europe.
Finnair announced today it has signed an agreement with ViaSat to install a high-speed wireless internet network across the airline’s entire Airbus A320 series short-haul fleet flying in Europe. Meanwhile, EL AL Israel Airlines is currently in customer trials and is expected to enter full retail service before the end of the 2016 calendar year.
Both airlines are committed to leveraging satellite connectivity to give passengers fast onboard Wi-Fi connections to surf the web, shop online, engage on social media and stream media at 35,000 feet.
ViaSat is the prime contractor to the airlines, making available its vertically-integrated in-flight internet system, inclusive of providing Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs); wireless IFE system support; passenger-facing access portals; and an end-to-end service that will leverage connectivity from ViaSat’s partner, Eutelsat. The connectivity service uses KA-SAT, Eutelsat’s high-capacity Ka-band broadband satellite whose service area spans Europe and the Mediterranean Basin.
“Our most recent contracts with EL AL and Finnair point to the continuation of the strong partnership between ViaSat and Eutelsat,” said Mark Dankberg, ViaSat chairman and CEO. “ViaSat brings tremendous experience delivering in-flight internet systems to leading airlines and Eutelsat brings broadband connectivity. This partnership combines our expertise to bring value-based, best-in-class connectivity to the European airline carrier market.”
Rodolphe Belmer, CEO of Eutelsat Communications, commented, “Together with ViaSat, we can deliver a high-quality in-flight internet experience that replicates the quality we are already giving many thousands of users on the ground and enables airlines serving Europe to deliver greater value to their customers.”
ViaSat and Eutelsat have enjoyed a decade-long partnership. The KA-SAT ground network that uses ViaSat’s technology is a version of the technology that today powers internet connectivity to nearly 700,000 homes and more than 1,500 flights daily in the U.S. The combination of KA-SAT’s exceptional capacity and ViaSat’s technology platform makes it possible to deliver in-flight internet connectivity at speeds comparable to an at-home experience. In February 2016, the companies announced an agreement to create a joint venture combining Eutelsat’s current European broadband business with ViaSat’s industry-leading broadband technologies and consumer Internet Service Provider (ISP) business expertise. The companies continue to work toward the completion of the transaction.