Sprint has unveiled a new alliance among itself and four other companies aiming to extend connectivity services from the ground to the air using satellite technology. The Seamless Air Alliance, as the group is called, launched its initiative at MWC 2018 and currently includes Airbus, Delta, OneWeb, Sprint, and Bharti Airtel. Its purpose is to do away with the high-costs and other obstacles that stand between connectivity and airline passengers. Through its efforts, it hopes to streamline system integration and certification through open specifications for interoperability. Moreover, the group hopes to simplify and integrate service billing, while lowering costs to customers. Obviously, since the initiative is just getting started, services through the partnership are still not available as of this writing. However, the group hopes to begin implementing its collective solutions at the earliest possible opportunity with plans to begin deploying production satellites later this year.
Although the more general goal of the alliance is as listed above, the initial short-term objective is to gain further traction and draw in other members from across the respective industries involved in communications and air travel. In fact, according to Sprint’s announcement, posted to the company’s official newsroom blog, at least one other membership addition may already be on the horizon. Michael Small, CEO of in-flight Internet provider Gogo, included a statement in the announcement indicating that Gogo is “excited” to partner with Seamless Air Alliance in an effort to promote next-generation in-flight connectivity. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Gogo will become involved in the alliance but the company is certainly a good fit.
In the meantime, the announcement is likely to be welcome news for those who travel frequently since the industry of in-flight connectivity has not exactly moved forward at a rate comparable to that of other networking technologies. The prospect is also bound to be equally appealing to other mobile operators from around the world, as is often the case with open standards alliances. All that remains to be seen is whether or not Sprint and the other companies involved in the Seamless Air Alliance can accomplish their goal. With that said, it will definitely be something to watch over the coming weeks and months.