Gulf Air took delivery of an A330-200 aircraft which will offer global -- or near-global -- live television on Europe, Middle East and Asia routes, the airline says.
Passengers "can watch their favorite football teams on IMG Media's Barclays Premier League channel or keep up with world events on favorite news channels such as BBC World News, BBC Arabic and Euronews" without having to wait for updated feeds, says Bahrain's national carrier, adding that its retrofitted aircraft is "the first aircraft in the world with global live television."
The aircraft, which was showcased for reporters, has been outfitted with Panasonic's Global Communications Suite.
Panasonic says its Airborne Television Network offers "near-global coverage" and it uses a Ku-based satellite network.
This Sky Hub solution also offers broadband Internet connectivity and VOIP mobile phone services.
Deutsche Telekom provides the wireless Internet service onboard the aircraft and passengers can access a virtual private network to send and receive emails and access Twitter and Facebook, the airline says.
Passengers can use their mobile phones to "call, text, email, browse the Internet and use other applications throughout the flight," the airline says, adding that mobile voice and data services come through a Panasonic partnership with AeroMobile.
GSM-enabled tablets and laptops also are capable of getting online during the flights, the airline says.
The system is currently being tested and will be installed "progressively" across the Gulf Air fleet, the airline says.
Roaming charges will apply to in-flight phone calls and there will be hourly and daily broadband pricing plans, ArabianBusiness.com reports.
It's ironic that Gulf Air would be the first airline to offer global live TV coverage, including news broadcasts, since the Kingdom was very much in the news over recent months as the Kingdom suppressed Arab Spring protests which broke out in the country.