Panasonic selects Newtec for new high-speed satellite modem

Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation (left) and Serge Van Herck of the Newtec Board of Directors, with the new modem board.
Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation (left), and Serge Van Herck of the Newtec Board of Directors, with the new modem board.

Panasonic Global Communications and Newtec have unveiled a new, high-bandwidth satellite modem that will offer Panasonic’s aero customers 20 times the bandwidth of its current solution.

Versions of this new modem will be available across Panasonic’s Ku-band mobility markets including air transport, business aviation, maritime, cruise ships, mega yachts, and river cruises.

The companies say the new modem, which will be exclusive to Panasonic Avionics, is capable of exceeding 400 Mbps, and can scale to meet the evolving needs of airlines and their passengers.

Newtec said the modem’s headline speed of 400 Mbps is achieved by utilising or bonding all three 133Mbps channels together. Panasonic will be able to use one, two or three channels independently or together.

High Throughput Satellite

Panasonic says it can facilitate the increasing bandwidth coming on stream over the next two years as High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) and Extreme-Throughput Satellite (XTS) services continue to be layered over the Panasonic’s existing global network.

This will expand network capacity from 2,300 MHz today to 15,000+ MHz by 2017.

The next-generation modem includes three demodulators for seamless beam switching and simultaneous data and video reception and is also part of the Newtec Dialog multiservice platform, which supports a wide range of verticals, including aviation and maritime.

The Newtec modem board for Panasonic Avionics.
The Newtec modem board for Panasonic Avionics.

Featuring Mx-DMA dynamic bandwidth allocation, it combines the efficiency of Single Channel Per Carrier (SCPC) with the capabilities of Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) to deliver up to 300 percent more data than legacy TDMA systems.

The Newtec modem accommodates higher data rates by utilising a full 150MHz carrier.

With support for DVB-S2X, the latest satcom transmission standard, and VL-SNR MODCODS (Very Low Signal to Noise Ratio Modulation and Coding), the modem is optimised for HTS and small VSAT antenna applications, maximising efficiency and availability.

Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said: “As we continue to optimise our second generation Global Communications network, we are constantly looking for new pieces of critical technology that will enable our customers take full advantage of HTS and XTS technology.

“Newtec’s broadband modem, which is based on the innovative DVB-S2X standard and customised to our requirements, allows us to access much larger blocks of frequency and better support high bandwidth platforms across all of our vertical markets.”

Newtec solutions

Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation (left) and Serge Van Herck of the Newtec Board of Directors.
Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation (left), and Serge Van Herck of the Newtec Board of Directors.

Serge Van Herck said on behalf of the Newtec Board of Directors: “Newtec has a proven track-record in delivering high-quality and reliable satcom solutions.

“Our partnership with Panasonic will combine next-generation ground segment and satellite technology to deliver the most efficient high-throughput solution to customers across the world.”

But what determines the maximum speed available over a satellite link and why is this new modem so important?

The fundamental starting point with a satellite link is the frequency in use – the higher the frequency, the more data can be passed over it. So, Ka-band (around 30 GHz) should be faster than Ku-band (around 12 GHz), which in turn is faster than L-band (about 1.6GHz).

But life really isn’t that simple.

Shannon’s Theorem

The speeds achievable on a satellite link can be explained by Shannon’s Theorem, named after Claude Shannon, the American mathematician, electronic engineer, and cryptographer.

He said there are only three key parameters that can be manipulated in order to optimise the capacity of a communications link – bandwidth, signal power and channel noise.

You can get more power density into a satellite beam by making it narrower, which is the feature behind HTS and XTS Ku-band satellites. Another factor is the bandwidth, which is where Newtec scores. As said earlier it can utilise a full 150MHz carrier – three times wider than Panasonic’s existing Ku-band systems.

“The modem’s three receivers allows us to dynamically allocate them according to requirements,” said Dave Bruner, Panasonic Avionics’ VP Global Communication Services. “It also means we can handle satellite and beam hand-offs more efficiently for high-speed data connections, with a ‘make before break’ arrangement.

“Because of its high spectral efficiency the technology can also handle much lower signal to noise ratios.”

Panasonic says its Global Communications network now covers 99.6 per cent of all aeronautical traffic routes.

Cedric Rhoads, Executive Director, Corporate Sales and Product Management, Panasonic Avionics, said at the Apex Expo in Singapore that the company’s Global Communications Services (GCS) business now has a 47% market share with 77 airlines.

Around 3,500 aircraft are committed to installing the system with more than 1350 delivered.

In terms of its eXTV product, it says 770 aircraft are committed with 419 already equipped.

Panasonic says the new modem will enable the consistent delivery of high-speed broadband communications and digital entertainment services, including live HD live TV and IP streaming, to all its markets including air transport, business aviation, maritime, cruise ships, oil, gas and energy.

Dave Bruner said that it will start rolling the new modem technology out in mid 2017, but it is not backwards compatible with Panasonic’s existing modems.

“We will add the new modem technology to satellite transponders, but ensure that both the new and old technologies are available. Then, as the roll-out gathers pace we can scale our capacity to match demand around the world,” Bruner said.

“Airlines would like to install equipment that will last for 20 years, but technology isn’t like that. The new modem has a Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) that will also us to perform real-time software upgrades when it is in service, so we can handle mid-cycle updates.”

Newtec, which was founded in 1985, is headquartered in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium. It has additional commercial offices in Dubai (UAE), Singapore, Beijing (China), Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Stamford, CT (USA) as well as an extensive network of more than 100 certified partners.

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