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Mobile ONAIR, the in-flight connection solution allowing passengers to make phone calls, send text messages and mobile data usage, from SITAONAIR is celebrating ten years of service.

The first transmission was made on-board an Airbus A318 international flight on 17 December 2007, since when the service has been installed in more than 550 aircraft, from single-aisle to long-range and across commercial, VIP and governmental flights alike.

More than 20 million passengers were connected for voice, SMS and data transmission in 2017 alone.

Veronique Blanc, CTO at SITAONAIR (then OnAir) in 2007, reflected, “The launch of Mobile ONAIR and the first cellular data transmission was very exciting for everyone involved. Back then, even before the widespread use of smartphones, we knew that what we were doing was hugely innovative, and paving the way for the future of in-flight connectivity.”

Working with satellite communications provider Inmarsat, the service has evolved with developments such as the recent deployment of cutting-edge in-flight 3.5G mobile network services over the high-speed broadband satellite connectivity of Inmarsat’s GX Aviation, and the continued evolution of pricing models, from the price-per-use model that dominated until 2013, to the unlimited mobile data bundles commonly seen today, and the ‘Roam Like at Home’ model.

SITAONAIR’s latest infographic highlights how cellular data is a crucial ingredient for a first class passenger experience, cementing Mobile ONAIR’s relevance in the connected airspace.

Gregory Ouillon, chief technology officer at SITAONAIR, said, “It’s remarkable to think that it was just ten years ago that SITAONAIR launched the world’s first in-flight mobile service on-board an international flight.

“Ten years is a long time in aviation, however, and the solution now has evolved to become an essential component of the full cabin connectivity experience, allowing passengers to use their mobile phones as they would on the ground.

“One major shift has been the trend towards the convergence of Wi-Fi and cellular technologies, which delivers the best of both worlds. Passenger expectations can be met by offering a hybrid experience that can leverage the advantages of both a Wi-Fi and a cellular connection. Importantly, SITAONAIR is one of the few industry players with the knowledge, assets and skills base to make this convergence happen.”