Press release

Passengers will soon be able to use low-cost mobile broadband on planes thanks to £300,000 prize

17 March 2016

Passengers will soon be able to use low-cost mobile broadband on planes thanks to £300,000 prize

A world expert in antenna and electromagnetics will today predict the widespread use of low-cost mobile broadband services on board planes in the foreseeable future.

Professor Yang Hao from Queen Mary University of London is the winner of the £300,000 Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize and will give a lecture on this subject at the IET in central London today.

Professor Hao’s research is focussed on developing a new generation of antennas with better aesthetics and fundamentally novel designs, which will allow them to be used in new and exciting ways, particularly in satellite communications for many industries including aviation and aerospace.

An exciting element of his work is that airline passengers will be able to enjoy low cost, high-throughput satellite communications. This will enable passengers to enjoy low-cost and broadband internet services when they travel by plane.

Today, air passengers have to switch their mobile phones to ‘Flight Mode’ and pay an additional charge to access data on their devices. Professor Hao’s research will enable a seamless broadband experience from land to air, at no additional cost.

Professor Hao said: “The IET A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize will push the boundaries of our research to the next level, out of the lab towards real engineering applications and industry.

“Our goal is to make low cost smart antenna systems, an engineering reality that can be enjoyed by everyone, from professionals in satellite communications to air passengers who want to stay connected on their mobile phone or devices.”

Professor Hao’s predicts the widespread use of this technology within a short time horizon and is leveraging strategic local partners to collectively redefine satellite transmission theory with cutting edge antenna design.

Sir John O’Reilly, Chair of the IET’s Selection Committee for the prize, said: “Professor Hao is awarded the Prize in recognition of his research achievements in microwaves, antennas and, in particular, metamaterial antenna innovations drawing inspiration from transformation optics.

“We hope the prize will become a springboard for propelling Professor Hao's research to even higher levels, while providing distinct economic benefits to his partners and to society in general.”

Professor Hao will give a talk about his research at the IET A F Harvey Prize Lecture on Thursday 17 March 2016 at the IET in central London.

Media enquiries to:

Hannah Kellett
External Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1438 767336
Mob: +44 (0)7738 602426
Email: HKellett@theiet.org

Notes to editors:

About the IET A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize: The award, worth £300,000, is named after Dr A F Harvey who bequeathed a generous sum of money to the IET for a trust fund to be set up in his name after his death. The terms of the trust specify that the money is to be used for the furtherance of scientific research into the fields of medical, microwave, laser or radar engineering. The award was first made in 2011 (this is the fifth time the award has been made).

About the IET: The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with over 167,000 members in 150 countries. It is also the most interdisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.

The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.

We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.

About QMUL: Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is one of the UK’s leading universities, and one of the largest institutions in the University of London, with 20,260 students from more than 150 countries.

A member of the Russell Group, we work across the humanities and social sciences, medicine and dentistry, and science and engineering, with inspirational teaching directly informed by our research - in the most recent national assessment of the quality of research, we were placed ninth in the UK (REF 2014).

We also offer something no other university can: a stunning self-contained residential campus in London’s East End. As well as our home at Mile End, we have campuses at Whitechapel, Charterhouse Square and West Smithfield dedicated to the study of medicine, and a base for legal studies at Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

We have a rich history in London with roots in Europe’s first public hospital, St Barts; England’s first medical school, The London; one of the first colleges to provide higher education to women, Westfield College; and the Victorian philanthropic project, the People’s Palace at Mile End.

Today, as well as retaining these close connections to our local community, we are known for our international activities, and have research and teaching partnerships with leading universities around the world. This includes two very successful and long-standing joint partnerships with the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and Nanchang University. QMUL has an annual turnover of £350m, a research income worth £100m, and generates employment and output worth £700m to the UK economy each year.