Druid Software helps mobile roaming take flight

Wicklow firm involved in development of 3G platform used by Panasonic’s AeroMobile

The next time you are checking your email or updating Facebook while somewhere over Europe, there's a chance it's partly thanks to an Irish company.

Bray-based Druid Software was involved in the development of the 3G product that Panasonic Avionics has come up with to ensure that not even your transatlantic flights can stop people getting hold of you.

The network is operated by AeroMobile, another Panasonic firm, and it’s currently being installed on Aerberlin’s A330-200 fleet. More airlines are expected to add the system in the coming months.

The in-flight 3G service was launched last December, and offers passengers data, text and voice services. Using Panasonic’s Ku-band satellite network, in-flight 3G works at similar levels to the services on the ground.


Druid Software helped develop the 3G product, contracted by Panasonic to deliver technology consultancy services.

“Druid’s deep knowledge of cellular signalling protocols, and knowledge of avionics platforms has been crucial in the development and roll out of our in-flight 3G service,” Alan Campbell, engineering manager for Global Communications at Panasonic Avionics said.

Druid’s Derek Gallagher said the company was already looking ahead to the implementation of 4G LTE services.

If the AeroMobile name sounds familiar, that could be because Aer Lingus already uses the company to provide its in flight services, as does Virgin Atlantic. In fact, more than 34 million passengers have connected to the AeroMobile network in-flight since 2008.

According to a new report from Juniper Research, in-flight revenues are set to double by 2020. Researchers said roaming revenues for mobile voice, data and SMS will close in on $3 billion by 2020, mainly driven by a rise in data usage.

Despite the growth, in-flight roaming will only account for around 5 per cent of global mobile roaming revenues by 2020.

Price appears to be the biggest barrier to adoption.

“High in-flight mobile roaming charges will continue to be a key hurdle for the industry,” said research author Nitin Bhas. “Given the steep pricing levels for in-flight roaming, the average annual spend per mobile roamer on in-flight and maritime roaming services will only represent a modest increase over the forecast period.”

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist