Google Said to Be In Talks With Nokia for In-Flight WiFi Technology

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Google is reportedly in talks with Nokia to buy Nokia Oyj’s aircraft broadband division as part of its plans to build an in-flight broadband internet service. Bloomberg reports the companies are in talks about the issue and could agree on a deal soon. Neither company is commenting.

Nokia has been developing its LTE air-to-ground (A2G) cellular-based system for five years, however it’s a lesser priority for the company than 5G deployment, according to the account. Nokia’s system creates an airborne WiFi connection by communicating with cell networks on the ground, rather than a satellite.

“Passengers expect 24/7 internet connectivity that’s equal to their experience with terrestrial WiFi hotspots,” says Nokia on its website. “Current short-haul and medium-haul continental flights use satellite-to-ground internet communications systems that are bulky, expensive, and have limited capacity, as well as high latency.”

The telco says it’s A2G architecture eliminates “the delay hop to a satellite,” and is more affordable than satellite-based systems.

Nokia’s technology could help Google offer a faster WiFi service than what is currently offered on planes, according to the sources. Current in-flight connectivity is spotty with weak bandwidth, reports Bloomberg. A Nokia deal is a business opportunity for Google that would give it a chance to expand its services.

Indeed, Nokia says its LTE A2G technology will provide a better in-flight experience, with business travelers able to use video conferencing while leisure travelers can watch live TV.  The telco boasts to potential technology buyers in a white paper, that its onboard equipment is modular and versatile, including one or two small antennas along with a “compact and low weight on board unit with a transceiver that acts as a hub and ground interface.” It says its secure IP architecture allows operators to build a “complete, cost effective end-to-end network, including core, backhaul, LTE Radio Access Network and modem or end-user devices”.

April 16, 2018

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