Viasat has reached an agreement to form a strategic partnership with telecommunications service provider China Satellite Communications (China Satcom) to jointly provide in-flight connectivity (IFC) services.

The IFC services will be made available within China for both domestic and international airlines.

According to Viasat, only 4% of flights in the country are connected. The partners intend to capitalise on the demand for high-speed, high-quality IFC on flights in China.

The partnership will enable Viasat’s global airline customers to have roaming connectivity when flying over China.

The IFC services will also enable Chinese airlines to roam onto Viasat’s global network.

“Our partnership is a natural way to extend state-of-the-art services specific to China Satcom’s fleet and the China domestic market.”

China Satcom owns and operates Ka-band spot beam satellite systems in China.

Viasat Commercial Aviation vice-president and general manager Don Buchman said: “Our agreement with China Satcom is a significant step towards realising a seamless global community of high-performance IFC.

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“China Satcom is now the only satellite operator and licensed service provider in China with the bandwidth resources to deliver the in-flight experience our airline customers have come to expect and depend on.

“Our partnership is a natural way to extend state-of-the-art services specific to China Satcom’s fleet and the China domestic market, and create a global roaming alliance for our existing and new domestic and international customers and the rapidly growing Chinese global commercial airline fleet.”

Through the partnership, the companies will jointly develop and share in future China-based IFC business.

Viasat will provide its IFC equipment to airlines designed for use on the China Satcom network, while China Satcom will leverage its expertise and ground infrastructure to deliver advanced IFC services to the airlines.

According to the agreement, Viasat and China Satcom will maintain their own intellectual property and operate their equipment using a multi-layered approach to network services.