ARINC is making good progress with the development of its Onboard Internet ‘Oi’ following prove of concept trials. A year since the new service was first showcased in Europe to airline attendees at the Aircraft Interiors Show in Hamburg, the company is preparing to have its technology fitted to a commercial airliner by the fourth quarter of this year (November), closely followed by flight trials.

“Response from the world’s airlines has been extremely positive, even in these economic challenging times, when carriers are tightening their belts,” acknowledges Andy Hubbard, Director of Aviation Solutions for ARINC EMEA. ARINC, which is marking 80 years of providing diverse engineering and communications innovations in the industry is participating at this event, during March 31-April 2 at Hall 6, C10.

Oi internet technology for personal laptops is innovative in that it isn’t dependent on an air to ground connection – rather it is loaded aboard the aircraft prior to departure. The Service is designed to operate from Inmarsat’s new high bandwidth Swift Broadband satcom service – a standard two-channel installation that mimics the ADSL connections in common use today. Passengers will be able to enjoy a wide variety of live web content via their laptops – accessible from Mac and PC programmes. They can surf the internet or chat on social networking sites from the comfort of their seat with flexible payment options – by the hour, by day or per flight sector. Oi can facilitate real time news and sports flashes, listen to news and sport bulletins; and even watch and download the latest podcasts to their laptops.

Passengers simply switch on their PC and, using either a wireless or wired platform, are instantly connected to ARINC’s Laptop Intranet Portal. The Portal will be fully customised to each airline’s requirement – whether a carrier wants BBC or Sky News as standard, for example. It will support a combination of free view or paid for applications. Oi will feature a range of price points to suit most budgets and ARINC envisages webmail prices will be under US$10 a flight, with attachments beyond a certain size requiring an extra charge. A number of payment methods will be offered – including credit card payments or pre-paid cards that ask for special access codes. Passengers can also pay via their usual mobile on internet service provider accounts.

ARINC first demonstrated its Laptop Connectivity at the September 2007 World Airline Entertainment Association congress, receiving much acclaim for the product offering. As the solution is software-based it can be easily installed on most of the higher specification IFE servers already on many of the world’s leading airlines, several of whom are now talking with ARINC about Oi.

In February, Inmarsat achieved global coverage for the SwiftBroadband service, following the launch of the last of three satellites last August.