ZTE ready for ground-to-air 4G communication

Chinese telecommunication firm ZTE Corp., said a successful test involving ground-to-air 4G communications indicates it will be ready within this year to offer airline passengers Internet access using LTE (long term evolution) standard.

Last month, the company tested its system on a Hainan Airline flight from Beijing to Xian and was able to provide Internet connectivity for 70 minutes of the two-hour flight. Engineers were able to conduct video conference meetings while playing online games, a report from Networkworld.com said.

ZTE reported that the downlink and uplink bandwidths were stable and operated at speeds in excess of 12 Mbps.

The system connects planes with base stations on the ground using LTE. The airline passengers used Wi-Fi to access the Internet.

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ZTE, which has been developing the technology since 2011, said it expects to launch a commercial 4G ground-air communication on all Chinese carriers this year.

Companies such as Telekon, Alcatel-Lucent, Deutsche and Airbus have been working on similar projects employing LTE. LTE is considered a cheaper alternative to current systems using satellites.

There are now 156 commercial networks in 67 countries using LTE for communications on th egroun according to the industry organization Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA). The number of LTE subscription increased by 23.2 million to about 68.3 million during the fourth quarter of 2013, according to business research firm Informa Telecoms and Media.

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