Global Eagle is moving closer to a Ka-band in-flight connectivity solution. The company recently cleared a critical milestone in the verification phase for the Global Eagle Airconnect Ka IFC terminal to be used with Canadian satellite operator Telesat’s planned Lightspeed low-earth orbit (LEO) network.
Our Airconnect Ka system, in conjunction with the Telesat Lightspeed network, will enable airline passengers to play online games like Fortnite and Roblox, live stream video, upload high quality holiday pictures and videos to Instagram and zip through Salesforce and Outlook tasks, as they would on broadband fiber, while at 40,000 feet.– Tim Southard, Vice President Networks, Global Eagle
This news follows Global Eagle and Telesat’s successful LEO demonstrations in October 2018. That included the first aircraft in-flight communication at broadband speeds with a satellite operating at low earth orbit. Rigorous testing in multi-orbit configurations achieved round-trip latency of 19ms, compared to traditional geostationary satellite (GEO) networks which experience over 600ms of latency.
Mike Pigott, Executive Vice President Connectivity, Global Eagle, notes, “Achieving this critical milestone lays the foundation for the eventual certification of our Airconnect Ka solution on the Telesat Lightspeed constellation. Our airline customers will benefit from the extraordinary advantages of Telesat Lightspeed network earlier and with few upgrades required after installation.”
Exactly when the new system moves over to regulatory certifications or installations, however, remains an open question.
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Global Eagle’s is not the only antenna solution capable of communicating with the Telesat constellation. Thinkom also successfully performed tests with the Phase 1 LEO satellite in Summer 2019. That test was carried out on the ground, however, not in flight.
Multiple other vendors are also developing new antenna solutions specifically targeting the upcoming LEO and MEO constellations or hybrid solutions.
- Eutelsat makes major LEO commitment with OneWeb investment
- De-risking IFC with OneWeb’s new JetTalk terminal
- Viasat phased array antenna moves into final testing phase for O3b integration
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