APEX: Phasor progressing with next-gen ESA antenna

David Helfgott, Phasor CEO.
David Helfgott, Phasor CEO.

Phasor says work is progressing on its innovative broadband, electronically-steerable antenna (ESA) system for inflight connectivity and it could be commercially available in 2019.

Speaking to “Get Connected’s” Steve Nichols at the APEX Expo, Phasor CEO David Helfgott said the company now had more than $300m worth of contracts for the device, which could revolutionise inflight connectivity.

He said over the coming months, Phasor expects to announce additional contracts across its commercial mobile broadband and government communications-on-the-move (COTM) target markets.

Helfgott added that Phasor’s very low-profile, electronically steerable antennas enable “high-bandwidth service in a more reliable, robust and failure-tolerant way”.

He says Phasor’s technology is very well suited to support fixed satellite networks, high throughput satellite (HTS) networks and non-geosynchronous satellite (LEO/MEO) networks.

Phasor's aero antenna
Phasor’s aero antenna

The Phasor ESA is just two-inches thick and is conformal so that it can integrate easily with an aircraft fuselage.

The company says it is a “software-defined” antenna that can be tailored in real-time to suit its environment, adding the electronically-steered unit is lighter, less complex and more reliable than a conventional mechanically-steered antenna.

It says you could arrange to have two beams pointing at two different satellites at once or put a null into a beam to avoid interference.

“No one has done this before,” Helfgott said. “The antenna can automatically track and acquire satellites, but has no moving parts.

“There are a lot of opportunities in the low earth orbit (LEO) market and we are positioning ourselves as leaders in the ‘new space’ ecosystem.”

Helfgott said it was concentrating on the land mobile and maritime markets first, but antennas for the aeronautical market could follow about “six months later”.

Recently Phasor and Kepler announced successful tests between Kepler’s first in-orbit LEO nanosatellite and Phasor’s wideband ESA.

Kepler says its technology demonstration satellite, KIPP, launched in January, represents the first example of a wideband LEO satellite to have been auto-acquired, auto-tracked, and communicated with, by a commercial flat panel, electronically-steerable antenna.

The Phasor ESA uses beam-forming techniques.
The Phasor ESA uses beam-forming techniques.

Helfgott said: “The Kepler-Phasor collaboration promises to bring to market real capabilities for a broad range of markets, including maritime, transportation, natural resources, defence, IoT and a wide variety of other on-to-move applications.

“This is an exciting beginning, and we look forward to many more milestones to come.”

In June Phasor also announced a commercial partnership with Astronics AeroSat, that will see the two companies produce scalable, dual-beam ESA-based aeronautical terminals.

Phasor is headquartered in Washington DC, with a technology development subsidiary in London, UK.

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