It’s called convergence. Two different approaches end-up with the same solution. In the nature it can be a bird and a bat (mammal). The both fly using wings although their ways to the result were quite independent.
In technology we can also use the synergism of the convergence. Simply we can reuse a technology which is already in place instead of creating a new one. A good example is the activity of NASA and Verizon to use the LTE eNodeB towers for air traffic control of drones (UAVs). Amazing – just a few years ago there was no LTE and no Drones.
Yesterday Deutsche Telecom (T-Mobile Germany) along with Inmarsat and Lufthansa announced their plans to create a new LTE network which would enable high-speed Internet for aviation passengers in Europe.
The network is called European Aviation Network (EAN). It will consist of the Inmarsat S-band satellite with multi-beam pan-European coverage and approximately 300 LTE sites. Each of the LTE sites will have a range of more than 80 km (comparing to traditional range of 10 km or less) and will be able to transmit data to the planes’ operating altitude. Moreover they should be flexible enough to deal with the speed of a plane. Lufthansa should start with a flight trial program in 2017.
Update: First trials
One wonders (with the coming IoT), how far we’re from unpiloted flights now?