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Global mobile satellite operator, Inmarsat, has signed an agreement with Beijing Marine Communication & Navigation Company (MCN) form a joint venture to provide aircraft cabin and cockpit connectivity services to China's commercial aviation market. Inmarsat services to be provided will include Global Xpress Aviation and SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S). The final agreement is expected to be signed later this year.

Inmarsat is planning to launch GX Aviation later this year and says it will be ""the world's first broadband in-flight connectivity solution with seamless, end-to-end global coverage '¦ [enabling] passengers to browse the internet, use social media, stream online videos, download files, and more, using their smartphones, tablets and other Wi- Fi enabled devices, with a similar quality of service in the air as they would receive on the ground.""

 SB-S is a secure flight deck communication platform designed to enable airlines to meet the ICAO mandate for sub-15 minute tracking of all aircraft and the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC)'s four-minute mandate, Automatic Dependent Surveillance and electronic flight bag updates. According to Inmarsat it combines L-band satellite connectivity with advanced avionics to deliver speeds 10 times faster than existing aero services to provide airlines with cockpit communications for the digital age.

MCN has been an Inmarsat partner since being founded by China's Ministry of Transportation in 1979. It unveiled an initial framework for the aviation joint venture with Inmarsat last year, while signing an agreement to bring the high-speed GX connectivity service to commercial and public sector organizations in China's maritime, enterprise and government markets. A satellite access station owned and operated by MCN is located in Beijing and exclusively handles all traffic from China over the Inmarsat network.