Inmarsat, Honeywell Aerospace and Eclipse have completed flight and lab tests of new High Data Rate (HDR) capabilities for SwiftBroadband, the aircraft connectivity service provided through the Inmarsat-4 (I-4) satellites.
The new service will double the in-flight Wi-Fi speeds for commercial, government and helicopter users through a simple on-aircraft software upgrade.
HDR came about after Inmarsat performed a software upgrade to its satellites.
SwiftBroadband’s original short-burst waveform has been extended to include longer bursts of data.
HDR has the benefit of providing faster speeds for fixed-wing aircraft, giving aircraft operators and passengers a faster and more efficient broadband experience when browsing the internet, checking emails, accessing instant messages and using streaming services while in the air.
Also, the original short burst waveform was not well suited for use on rotary-winged aircraft as the rotor tended to break up the signal. But the introduction of the new HDR waveform makes a big difference.
The new interleaving bearers can re-arrange information packets across a longer burst, making it more robust in tough conditions, including under helicopter rotors.
Honeywell developed and tested HDR to increase the data speeds from Inmarsat’s L-band SwiftBroadband network over its proven HSD-400 and HD-710 onboard hardware.
Eclipse then used its Aero+ Velocity IP aggregation solution to combine four HDR channels to provide average speeds of 2.15 Mbps with peak speeds of around 2.75 Mbps.
Together the three partners will offer a single higher-speed solution.
Kurt Weidemeyer, Vice-President Inmarsat Business and General Aviation, said: “SwiftBroadband has a very strong future as part of Inmarsat’s portfolio. We are fully committed to our global L-band services and will continue to develop our technology to provide more bandwidth and better services.
“We are always seeking to innovate to improve the services we provide. GX Aviation and our new S-band network in Europe, with its complementary ground network, of course make the headlines.”
Weidemeyer continued: “We are working hard with our partners across all commercial and government markets to ensure we provide the very best connectivity now and in the future.
“HDR enhances an already established successful service: our L-band and Ka-band networks are the only ones that provide consistent global coverage. And our EU-wide network will provide additional capacity in what is widely predicted to be a region of very high demand.”
HDR will also find favour among Inmarsat’s government customers.
Its government team has worked closely with Eclipse and its customers to develop a solution addressing key requirements for full-motion video on mission-specific airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft.