Panasonic selects GX Aviation as its exclusive Ka-band connectivity service

Panasonic and Inmarsat announce a landmark strategic agreement to bring GX Aviation to airline customers worldwide.

Global demand for aviation connectivity continues to accelerate at an unprecedented pace. Close to a hundred airlines now offer inflight Wi-Fi, with the number of connected aircraft set to triple to over 23,000 by the middle of the next decade. Connected applications are unlocking valuable new ancillary revenues, estimated by The London School of Economics and Political Science to reach $130 billion by 2035. Passenger expectations of service quality are also growing fast, mirroring advances in mobile technology on the ground.

The challenge of meeting these rising aspirations requires the industry’s leading connectivity providers to explore new and ever more innovative solutions.

With this goal in mind, Panasonic and Inmarsat have announced a landmark strategic collaboration, for minimum ten-year period, that pairs their highly complementary, market-leading services. This will create a best-in-class IFC solution for the next generation of connected aircraft, for the benefit of manufacturers, airlines and their passengers worldwide.

What has been agreed?

The agreement brings the advantages of Inmarsat’s GX Aviation service to Panasonic’s customers for the first time. Inmarsat will become Panasonic’s exclusive provider of Ka-band satellite services for commercial aviation; a strong endorsement of GX, making it a primary offering for new business. By adding GX Aviation to their NEXT Online portfolio, Panasonic joins a growing list of sales partners committed to Inmarsat’s seamless, global, high-speed service.

Panasonic will resell managed GX airtime, together with terminal equipment and hardware, alongside its existing airline services. In turn, Inmarsat will have the option to offer Panasonic’s market-leading service portfolio to its aviation customers, including inflight entertainment and digital solutions, and customer support services available from Panasonic’s Customer Performance Center and Technical Services teams.

Woman using phone on an aircraft

Looking forward, Panasonic and Inmarsat will also cooperate in the development of a next-generation Ka-band terminal, as well as new connectivity-enabled services, data analytics and technology, drawing on the expertise of both organisations and their partners. 

The agreement with Panasonic is non-exclusive. Inmarsat will continue to sell its GX services through existing sales partners, and directly to airline customers, partnering on a case-by-case basis. Panasonic will retain and continue to provide its Ku-band services.

The agreement is restricted to GX Aviation and does not extend to other Inmarsat services, such as the European Aviation Network, Jet ConneX, its L-band services, or services for government and defence.

How does the agreement benefit the two partners?

This new partnership connects the complementary capabilities of two organisations that have been at the forefront of innovation for nearly four decades. It brings together Inmarsat’s GX service, powered by Global Xpress, the world’s first global Ka-band satellite network, with Panasonic’s world-leading expertise in aircraft and passenger technologies.

Cooperation between the two companies creates an opportunity for Inmarsat to further strengthen and diversify its downstream capabilities, as well as significantly expanding GX Aviation’s customer growth in new and existing markets.

For Panasonic, with GX Aviation as a core offering for new business, the collaboration dramatically extends the choice and service capabilities it offers its customers worldwide.

Together, Panasonic and Inmarsat are committed to delivering a world-class, fully-integrated, end-to-end offering, building on the successful collaboration model already deployed by a leading and visionary airline.

How does the agreement benefit airline customers?

It’s a compelling proposition for airlines. The combined strength of the world’s leading inflight entertainment and IFC provider, with the market’s most advanced broadband connectivity solution.

As Rupert Pearce, Inmarsat’s Chief Executive Officer describes it, “Our highly complementary collaboration with Panasonic combines the unique expertise and proven capabilities of both companies to create a market-leading inflight connectivity offer."

“IFC is a substantial and fast-emerging sector where the quality of customer experience is paramount. Reliable, high-quality IFC is no longer a luxury for passengers, but an expectation, and will play a vital role in securing an airline’s competitive position in a market.”

Beyond passenger Wi-Fi, the reliability of GX Aviation, integrated with Panasonic’s on board systems and data capabilities, provides an unrivalled platform for service innovations. Four main revenue streams, in particular, are anticipated; broadband access charges, e-commerce and destination shopping; targeted inflight advertising, and premium content, including live broadcast, on demand video and bundled W-IFEC access.

Hideo Nakano, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics, concludes,“For over 10 years, Panasonic has remained steadfast in its commitment to the connected aircraft. Still, many airlines have more than one connectivity partner, and this strategic collaboration ensures that even more airlines have access to a wide variety of industry-leading digital solutions."

"By adding GX Aviation into our NEXT Online portfolio, we’re recognizing the need for IFC consistency across multiple fleets, and enabling digital solutions and services with unified customer support. It’s really a win-win for customers.”

Panansonic & Inmarsat Aviation Logos

What are the benefits for the GX partner ecosystem?

The agreement is evidence of the growing importance of Inmarsat’s partnership network. Alongside Panasonic, Inmarsat will continue to support and develop its highly successful existing relationships with sales, distribution, manufacturing and marketing partners. In fact, the anticipated rise in GX adoption associated with the agreement will deliver additional benefits for this broader ecosystem.

Growing demand for GX will enable ongoing investment in network development, supporting continuous improvement in service performance and giving all partners the assurance of a resilient, future-proofed innovations roadmap. In parallel, improved capacity utilisation will also bring more efficient bandwidth economics.

As David Coiley, Vice President Strategy and External Relations, Inmarsat, explains, “This is a non-discriminatory, non-preferential agreement. We passionately believe in the growth potential of the global IFC market. We see enormous opportunity for all our partners, and firmly believe the size of the global IFC market is sufficiently large for all to succeed.”

Ultimately, an enhanced service and distribution base will cement the Ka-band generally, and GX Aviation in particular, as the market’s leading and most desirable global connectivity solution.

Supporting long-term sustainable growth for all

By combining the expertise of both partners, this agreement creates new and substantial commercial opportunity; for Panasonic and Inmarsat, the GX partner network, and the aviation sector as a whole. It promises a step-change in aero services capability, resolving widely recognised challenges of capacity, coverage and compatibility, to extend quality, consistency of experience and choice for airlines and their passengers. And it supports continued investment in the network, ensuring GX capacity scales rapidly to match demand.

At a time when the airline industry is navigating a period of far-reaching digital transformation, this partnership will provide a reliable platform for airlines to invest with confidence in the service innovations required to enhance passenger experience, unlock the $30 billion connected ancillaries prize, and realise the full potential of inflight connectivity over the next decade and beyond.