Satcom Direct displayed its limited edition GOLD SDR router for business aviation customers at the Dubai Air Show.
The anodised GOLD Satcom Direct Router (SDR) can integrate with any satcom system and manage cabin communications, run software apps and connect to 3G/4G cellular networks.
It weighs less than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms), and meets DO-160G and DO-178B Level D standards.
Satcom Direct says the SDR not only interfaces with current networks, but is designed to work with future networks including Ka, Ku and L-Band, and others in development. STCs are available for most major airframes.
The company also promoted its GlobalVT app, which works with the SDR and enables passengers to use their own mobile (cellphone) number on their smartphone while in-flight, anywhere in the world.
The service acts like a global cellular roaming service, routeing all calls and texts to a passenger’s smartphone number via a satellite connection.
All passengers need to do is download and install the app to enable the service. They then switch their phone to inflight mode and enable a Wi-Fi connection to the onboard Satcom Direct SDR router.
The GlobalVT app is available for both iOS and Android and allows users to use their own contacts and caller ID. All outgoing calls will correctly show your number as the originator, which increases the chance of it being answered. Incoming calls also correctly display the number of the person calling you.
Satcom Direct’s Sanaa Saadani said that the system will work with ViaSat Ku-band systems and Inmarsat SwiftBroadband (SBB).
“The call quality is excellent,” said Saadani. “Before GlobalVT you would have needed the phone number of the aircraft and know that the person you are calling is actually onboard.
“And with outgoing calls there is no ‘+87’ or other strange number displayed when you call, so your recipient is more likely to answer it.”
Satcom Direct also highlighted the benefits of its new Skybond service. Skybond works with the SDR to provide faster in-flight data speeds of up to 1.4 Mbps by combining multiple streaming channels of Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadBand service.
This allows passengers to stream video, music, or use video conferencing, while in-flight, anywhere in the world.
The company said it is also getting ready for the global launch of Inmarsat’s ultra-fast Ka-band Jet ConneX service.
Jet ConneX is the business aviation variant of Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) service that will operate on its high-speed Inmarsat-5 (I-5) satellite constellation. When fully launched around the end of this year, it will deliver global satellite communications services that support high data rate applications in-flight, including streaming YouTube videos and Skype video calls, in real-time.
Honeywell is developing a tail-mounted antenna for the Jet ConneX service that should be available early in 2016.
The MCS-8000 antenna is currently being tested on two aircraft in the US and an STC for the Dassault Falcon is expected in late Q4 2015.
The MCS-8000 had originally been touted as being capable of delivering up to 30Mbps to the aircraft, but early signs are that Inmarsat and its partners will offer data packages with a “maximum information rate” of 15Mbps. This is still around 35 times faster than a standard SwiftBroadband connection.
To verify the functionality of its aero network and software services over the I-5 network, Satcom Direct recently conducted tests at its international headquarters in Farnborough, UK, via the initial Inmarsat I-5 satellite (F1), now in service over Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
Jim Jensen, founder and CEO of Satcom Direct, said: “The next generation satellite networks are going to advance airborne data speeds in a significant way.
“Being the first in business aviation to prove our technologies over Inmarsat’s Ka-band network demonstrates that not only does Satcom Direct deliver what flight departments need now, we’re preparing for the future so that when operators transition to these new networks, the value added services they utilise are in place.”