Airbus And SkyFive To Develop 5G Internet Solution For Chinese Aviation

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Nokia spin-off SkyFive has signed a partnership agreement with Airbus’ China Innovation Center to develop a 5G air-to-ground solution for the Chinese aviation market. SkyFive is one of the delivery partners for Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom’s European Aviation Network (EAN) and comes to this new project with bags of experience and bucketloads of enthusiasm.

SkyFive Airbus partnership
SkyFive and Airbus will form a partnership to accelerate 5G air-to-ground development in China. Photo: SkyFive

A partnership with Airbus

SkyFive recently announced a new strategic technology partnership with Airbus China Innovation Center to deliver a 5G air to ground connectivity solution for the Chinese market. The agreement was signed at the second Connected Aircraft China Congress 2020 in Shanghai by Lu Sun, Head of Airbus China Innovation Centre and Thorsten Robrecht, SkyFive’s CEO. Due to the current situation, the handshake was somewhat virtual.

The partners had to be satisfied with a ‘virtual’ handshake. Photo: SkyFive

The partnership will see a renewed enthusiasm for ATG connectivity in the skies above China. With the Chinese market rebounding at an impressive rate and a huge demand for inflight connectivity, SkyFive is betting big on the market for a true 5G experience in the sky. The company said in a statement,

“Customers will benefit from true 5G broadband experience whilst providing high-speed internet experience to the passenger and significantly improving operational efficiencies for airlines. Implemented with local telecommunication partners, the solution will transform the inflight connectivity economics providing substantial reduction in costs whilst providing performance benefits.”

The partnership is planning a technology demonstration before the end of the year. Following that, they plan to make the solution available to the domestic market in China first. The companies say that their solution will go some way towards mitigating the capacity constraints of the current satellite dependent systems.

Who is SkyFive?

SkyFive might not be a household name in this part of the world, but it’s parent company certainly is. Spun off from Nokia in 2019, it was set up to become a specialist Air-to-Ground (ATG) company, providing solutions and services for inflight connectivity.

When the company was spun out in October 2019, a large part of Nokia’s ATG patents, portfolio and employees transferred across. That means that, although it is a relative newcomer to the industry, it comes with bags of experience and in house expertise.

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EAN
SkyFive is a delivery partner for the European Aviation Network. Photo: Inmarsat

The company is already instrumental in one of the most groundbreaking inflight connectivity projects this decade – the European Aviation Network. Developed through a partnership of Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom, the EAN is delivered by SkyFive and has served as a blueprint for the successful deployment of ATG services in other regions.

Although the partnership is a positive development, ATG connectivity in China is not an easy task. The nation is incredibly large, with some parts difficult to access, and the mountainous terrain is going to make some areas tricky to cover. There have previously been experiments in ATG connectivity over China from other companies in the market, but as yet, nothing has been implemented.

However, with the expertise of SkyFive and the backing of a major aircraft manufacturer, perhaps that nut can finally be cracked.

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