Eutelsat is no normal communications company. It deploys and manages forty satellites that provide service to broadcasters, telcos and aviation companies. The next launch will position a satellite over the Asia-Pacific region to provide communications and connectivity services to aeronautical and maritime companies.
For those of us pending countless hours in aeroplanes, especially long-haul flights, we are no longer listed to viewing mobiles on TV re-runs. As Michel Azibert, Deputy CEO of Eutelsat explains, his company provides the connectivity to aircraft that allows internet access and live broadcast TV services to be provided to passengers. And airlines have been quick to offer these as an added attraction to satisfy their customers’ wants and needs to be continuously connected. Mobility services, principally in-flight, are one of Eutelsat’s fastest-growing activities.
It’s no exaggeration to say that in-flight connectivity is boardroom talk for airlines around the world. They are increasingly leveraging connectivity through passenger mobile apps and devices to increase brand engagement and provide a seamless on-line experience from home to airport, boarding and in-flight, and to destination. Inflight connectivity is opening up a new stream of added-value content and services that passengers will want to buy and that offers a substantial affiliate revenue prize to airlines, estimated at some $60 billion a year globally, and growing fast.
If you thought it was simply a matter of sending up a rocket and pushing out a satellite into a stationary orbit you would be sadly mistaken. Positioning a satellite at 36,000 kilometres into space in a geostationary orbit can take up to five months and you would be surprised what is involved as Michel explains in this interview.