Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) has announced it is developing its new Airconnect Global Ka-band antenna for in-flight connectivity
The project is in partnership with German antenna-specialist QEST (Quantenelektronische Systeme Gmbh) and adds higher-frequency Ka-band capability to its current Ku Airconnect Global platform.
GEE says that by offering both Ka and Ku capabilities on one device its open architecture will allow customers to select the most efficient satellite solution for their needs.
Aditya Chatterjee, GEE’s SVP and Chief Technology Officer, told “Get Connected” that to change the antenna from Ku and Ka only requires an engineer to swap out the aperture.
“This can be done in a few hours,” Chatterjee said. “There have been some questions from the market as to whether we are we against or worried about the future of Ku, and the answer is not at all!
“However we do see, at least over North America, that the demand for additional capacity on Ku, or even Ku HTS, is so high it may outstrip the supply.
“Our idea is that when and if a customer wants more capacity in the future they will be able to switch to Ka quite easily.”
GEE announced last month that it had partnered with Hughes for Ka-band satellite connectivity for its next-generation, multi-band inflight connectivity. Chatterjee said it could use the high-throughput EchoStar 17, also known as Jupiter 1.
Looking further ahead the Ka-band EchoStar XIX (Jupiter 2) satellite is also planned for launch in late 2016, and Jupiter 3 is in the pipeline.
He added there is no technical reason why the antenna couldn’t be used with the ViaSat Ka-band satellites, but it would involve a change to the aircraft’s technical infrastructure.
Airconnect Global Ka
The Airconnect Global Ka-band antenna is compatible with GEE’s current installation architecture and STCs and meets the requirements for future line-fit installations.
The Ku-band antenna was unveiled at AIX in 2015. Its patented three-axis steering is said to offer consistent high-performance at a far greater range of elevation and skew angles than competitive systems.
This means it can work as well over the difficult equatorial region where skew angle issues can otherwise create interference problems with other nearby satellites.
The Airconnect Global Ku, and now Ka, antenna is fully ARINC 791 compliant.