Seamless DIreCt Air to GRound COmmunications in EU

Researchers from KTH, Ericsson, Airbus, and Create-Net have joined forces in a new EIT Digital project, ICARO-EU (Seamless Direct Air-to-Ground Communications in Europe). The project aims to provide seamless gate-to-gate connectivity for aircraft through a high capacity Direct Air-to-Ground Communications (DA2GC) system integrated with ground cellular networks. This will provide high speed broadband simultaneously to all passengers in aircraft flying in Europe and potentially beyond.


Expected outcome

Today, airline passengers do not have the possibility to use their mobile devices for mobile broadband connections when they are on board the aircraft. Several airlines provide Wi-Fi access after take-off. However, this technology provides low performance if the number of users per access point is high, and it requires some end-user device configuration, and is not seamlessly connected with ground networks. Furthermore, the backhaul capacity, which is mainly provided via satellite links today, is currently not high enough to provide broadband speeds simultaneously to hundreds of passengers. Existing DA2GC backhaul deployments in USA are also capacity-limited due to small carrier bandwidths.

Aircraft manufacturers, mobile network operators and researchers need to join efforts to develop new network architectures, communication systems, and business models to provide gate-to-gate seamless broadband services for a huge customer market with 160 airlines and 4500 aircrafts (as of 2014) in Europe. By integrating 4G/5G broadband technologies and associated consumer services with DA2GC backhaul systems built on cellular standards, the project will enable for the first time seamless connectivity from gate to gate, offering excellent market opportunities. European mobile network operators will be able to extend their coverage into aircraft and offer seamless communication and data service plans to their customers, and will allow passengers to experience seamless 4G/5G experience in the air. This will allow the full exploitation of DA2GC technologies and integrate the aircraft infrastructure into the ground infrastructure including seamless handover, roaming and billing services.

KTH contact: Cicek Cavdar
Duration: 2016-2018
Partners: KTH, Ericsson, Airbus, BT, CREATE-NET
Funding: EIT Digital

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