Seamless Air Alliance to Foster Integration of 3GPP 5G Non-Terrestrial Networks Into the Aviation Sector

Feb. 27, 2024
The Seamless Air Alliance NTN Working Group will promote aviation positions for the integration of satellites with terrestrial networks under 3GPP 5G specifications and ecosystem.
Seamless Air Alliance

Seamless Air Alliance (SAA), a leading developer of global standards for Inflight Connectivity (IFC), announced it will foster the development and integration of 3GPP specified 5G NTN into the aviation sector to enable future seamless connectivity between terrestrial and non-terrestrial (NTN) satellite networks.

Historically, mobile satellite services have leveraged proprietary technologies that hinder integration with terrestrial networks. The lack of interoperability between different satellite providers’ IFC offerings, due to varying modem, antenna, and frequencies, has posed significant challenges for airlines.

To address these issues, the SAA formed a specialized NTN Working Group to ensure 5G NTN considers the unique challenges and requirements of the aviation industry. The group has released its first white paper, which outlines key factors and considerations for applying 5G NTN to IFC and the opportunity for a significant evolution toward a fully interoperable solution for aviation connectivity.

"5G NTN provides an opportunity to harmonize IFC standards and overcome the limitations of proprietary satellite technologies, which prevents airlines from pursuing technology upgrades and inhibits the interchangeability of equipment,” stated Olivier Hauw, Fast Track Leader Connectivity at Airbus and co-chair of the SAA NTN Working Group.

Rubén Díaz Calvo, Principal Technology Platform Manager at Vodafone and co-chair of the NTN Working Group, encourages interested aviation, telecom, satellite, and connectivity providers to join the alliance and contribute to the standards development. Díaz Calvo added, "The SAA NTN Working Group will evolve its studies on 5G NTN connectivity for the aviation industry and present its findings to 3GPP."

"With global aviation passenger traffic projected to reach 9.4 billion passengers this year, the Seamless Air Alliance recognizes the importance of delivering exceptional inflight internet experiences,” stated Jack Mandala, CEO of the Seamless Air Alliance. “I want to thank our member organizations who work tirelessly to simplify access for passengers and exceed their expectations.”

The Seamless Air Alliance is proud to celebrate its 6-year anniversary having launched at Mobile World Congress in 2018. SAA is a robust, member-driven organization with seven specialized working groups that are chaired by world-class experts in telecommunications, aeronautical, and connectivity technologies and more than 200 member-company resources participating. SAA is finalizing work on Seamless Release 7 and work is already in progress on Seamless Release 8, including the study of aviation use cases for 5G NTN.