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May 12, 2014

Telstra looking to take its LTE network to the skies

4G 'Skinet' network will be tested on Melbourne-Sydney air route.

By CBR Staff Writer

Browsing inside an aircraft at 4G speeds may soon become a reality for Australia flyers, as telecommunications company Telstra has announced it will be testing its ‘Skinet’ LTE network project on flights between Melbourne and Sydney.

The flightpath between the two cities is covered by four mobile sites constructed by Telstra using its existing 4G expertise, meaning the company should be able to provide network coverage throughout the flight.

The four sites have upward facing antennas installed which will broadcast signals upwards, which are then received by ‘Shark Fin’ antennas fixed underneath the aircraft.

"In order to test the capability, we borrowed some spectrum to run a number of test flights," said Telstra executive director Mike Wright. "We used a number of different aircraft fitted out with special terminals to pick up the signal and we were able to successfully establish and maintain data connections, achieving a maximum data throughput of 15 Mbps, with an average throughput around 10 Mbps."

Wright calls the test flights "a significant step in the development of a potential Skinet network" which could deliver high speed broadband connectivity.

"We will look to do additional tests later this year and take those results into account as we explore the possible economics around building a nationwide, commercial LTE network in the sky," he added.

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