Panasonic Avionics Corp., a maker of in-flight entertainment systems, is increasing its global satellite capacity by 50% to provide faster in-flight internet connections for airlines and passengers.
Panasonic said the new speeds will range from 75 megabits per second (Mbps)—which is considered a high-speed internet connection—to 200 megabits per second, depending on the satellite.
A phased deployment plan is in place, with completion by the end of this year.
The Irvine-based company’s in-flight entertainment systems, satellite Wi-Fi connectivity and digital services are used by more than 200 of the world’s leading airlines, the company says.
The boost in speeds will improve internet access for features like e-mail access and content streaming.
“Given our unique approach to satellite capacity,” the company “has the unique ability to leverage a wide range of different, industry leading satellites, rather than the high-risk approach of relying solely on proprietary satellite technology,” John Wade, vice president of Panasonic Avionics’ In-flight Connectivity Business Unit, said.
The amount of money that the company plans to invest in the new satellites hasn’t been disclosed.
Panasonic Avionics is adding two types of spacecraft—High Throughput Satellites and Extreme Throughput Satellites—to its connectivity network to improve coverage over the globe.
This includes increased capacity in Asia, with additional satellite access in China and Japan that builds “on existing connectivity investments in the region,” the company said in a statement.
Both types of satellites are designed to boost communication speeds for domestic and international travelers.
New Clients, Platform
The increase in capacity comes as the company adds Wi-Fi clients and prepares to roll out its new Astrova entertainment system, with features like 4K OLED screens, high-fidelity audio and programmable LED lighting.
United Airlines recently signed on to become the first U.S. airline to offer Astrova, with plans to install the system on select new Boeing 787 and Airbus A321XLR aircraft beginning in 2025.
In June, Panasonic Avionics signed a deal with Singapore Airlines to deliver unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi to customers, with service starting last month.
“In-flight connectivity is paramount to airlines and their customers, and the expectation is that they get the same service in the air as they do on the ground,” Wade said in June.
“This latest announcement is just the latest example of our mission to work with industry stakeholders to enable passengers to connect in flight easily and affordably.”
Panasonic Avionics, headquartered at 3347 Michelson Drive in Irvine’s Park Place complex, has more than 3,500 employees and operates in 50 locations around the globe.
It ranked as Orange County’s fifth-largest aerospace firm by employee count last year, according to Business Journal data.
The company will be exhibiting at the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) convention next month in Long Beach, which brings together airline executives and exhibitors demonstrating the latest innovation and technology to improve the passenger experience.
Panasonic Avionics is part of OC’s cluster of in-flight entertainment systems manufacturers and software providers, with others including Huntington Beach’s Safran Passenger Innovations and Irvine-based Thales InFlyt Experience.
The three firms employ roughly 4,000 people locally, according to Business Journal records.
For more on the industry, see the Sept. 4 print edition for the Business Journal’s annual list of aerospace and defense contractors.
In-Flight Entertainment Systems is a Growing Business
Irvine-based Panasonic Avionics Corp., a supplier of in-flight entertainment systems, is part of a fast-growing industry.
The in-flight entertainment sector could reach $3.2 billion by 2028, according to a recent report from Stratview Research, a Detroit-based global market research firm.
The analysis looked at the global and regional industry forecast, current and emerging trends, segment analysis and competitive landscape. Overall, the $3.2 billion figure represents a 10.2% increase based on a compound annual growth rate (CAGR), with the North American market remaining the largest segment.
In-flight entertainment options in planes can include gaming and internet access, along with TV and movie streaming. It can cost on average close to $20,000 per seat to install a new system on a plane, according to industry data.