Skuku has announced today that it has formed a partnership with the German company TriaGnoSys to provide the next generation of inflight GSM services for airline passengers.

The new service allows travellers to avoid costly roaming charges while placing phone calls aboard commercial airlines.

It takes advantage of existing technology, including in-seat screens, seat-back phones and Internet connectivity, and allows airlines to offer roaming-free voice and SMS functions to their passengers.

Skuku’s technology will not require the installation of any onboard GSM equipment.

Axel Jahn, managing director of TriaGnoSys, said the new service allows airlines, as well as business jet owners and operators, to exploit the technology they already have on their aircraft in order to provide an additional passenger service.

"The installation process is a simple software upgrade, bypassing the need for the expensive and time-consuming fitting of hardware," he said.

"In addition, Skuku’s technology can easily be integrated into current generation IP-enabled IFE systems."

Skuku’s technology uses SIM card data in ground-based GSM servers to provide roaming-free services for voice and instant messaging.

TriaGnoSys, experts in aeronautical communication, has developed the software to enable Skuku to be used on aircraft.

Jahn said that from the success of current inflight GSM services, it is clear that passengers want access to SMSs and voice calls during flights.

He added: "This is a highly efficient way of providing that service."

To use the service, passengers insert their own SIM card into a SIM card reader.

On aircraft with Internet connectivity, passengers can send and receive SMS messages using the IFE screen, while softphones can be used for voice calls.

Seat-back phones can also be used to place and receive voice calls, in addition to Inmarsat and Iridium satellite phones.

Colin Blou, VP of sales and marketing at Skuku, said that from the passengers’ perspective, using the Skuku/TriaGnoSys service was very similar to current inflight mobile phone services.

"Passengers can continue to use their mobile number and contacts list, and they are billed through their normal bills at national rates, without having to pay costly roaming charges,"he said.

Subscribe to our Newsletter