Emirates to have in-flight Wi-Fi over the North Pole by 2022

New satellites will allow airline passengers flying over the polar region to connect to Wi-Fi, TV and mobile services

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Regular flyers from Dubai to the US may have noticed the black-out period that typically occurs for a few hours each flight when it comes to connecting to in-flight Wi-Fi.

Emirates has revealed that the issue will soon be a thing of the past, with the airline announcing that by 2022 passengers will be able to connect to Wi-Fi, make phone calls or watch live TV even as they soar over the North Pole.

 

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The Dubai airline’s satellite telecommunications partner, Inmarsat is set to solve the current disconnection issue by adding two new satellites that will serve the Arctic region.

Currently, most satellites that connect aircraft are geostationary — meaning they are placed at altitudes of approximately 35,800 kilometres over the equator. This means that when aircraft fly in the very far north of the planet, the airplane lose sight of the satellites. This causes disconnections and, for flights from Dubai to the United States, can mean a lack of in-flight connectivity for up to four hours.

Inmarsat will add two elliptical orbit satellites to supplement the existing satellites allowing planes flying over the North Pole to remain connected throughout the flight.

Connectivity in the Arctic region is growing in importance as aircraft fly more northerly routes, merchant ships transit new high-value waterways and the region becomes of increasing geo-political importance for diverse governments,” said Rupert Pearce, chief executive officer at Inmarsat.

As well as providing Wi-Fi, the satellites will also mean that Emirates passengers can tune in to live TV broadcasts of sporting matches or news announcements.

Over one million Wi-Fi connections are currently made on Emirates’ flights each month.

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