Norsat investigates new airborne microwave products | Norsat International Inc

Norsat Microwave goes Airborne

Posted on Thursday, February 14

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With the recent changes in regulations for in-flight connectivity, you will soon be able to go on-line whenever you want.  Norsat Microwave is soaring to 30 000 ft. to help you do this.

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At Norsat we aim to stay ahead of the curve, so as technology continues to change at a rapid pace we’ve taken our Microwave Component expertise and are working to design and produce “better than the regular grade” airborne products.   We have looked at the needs of the airborne market and decided, “we can build a better mousetrap,”  so we’re actively developing new products to meet or beat the required performance demands of this evolving market.  Norsat currently has a number of airborne BDC’s in the field and we are now working on a custom airborne LNB.  With our success designing custom products for C, Ku, Ka and X Band systems for Government, Military and Commercial use –  airborne is the next step and from there (excuse the pun) the sky’s the limit!

Airplane computerAbout two years ago several companies started seriously looking at launching airborne Satcom communications services.  As we entered a new phase of in-flight connectivity, approximately 1,300 aircraft worldwide were committed to their Ku-Band network allowing global coverage and capacity.  Due to the extremely competitive nature of the airline industry, companies began offering additional services over their competition to get passengers on board  This competition is increasingly intense on international flights where every carrier is vying to increase the number of passengers per flight.  With a high proportion of these passengers travelling for business, in flight connectivity is a must to enable the traveler to continue working during long hauls.  Satellite communications, therefore, become indispensable.  Through the use of mobile phones, laptops and tablets, the demand for wireless access to communications services in-flight is enormous.  

Going forward, the demand for bandwidth (Ku or Ka-Band), and satellite capacity will only increase as the number of aircraft and number of users increase.  It is estimated the number of connected aircraft will be 17,000 to 20,000 by 2025, and the momentum growing at an exponential pace.       

Ka-Band is expected to have global coverage by 2014, and several other recently launched systems have significantly higher capacity and performance, with substantially lower costs per bit than typical Ka or Ku-band systems.  This will change the way the industry looks at airborne satellite connectivity.  The pricing structure for in-flight services will probably depend on the options you request, but we expect it to be similar to the type of services you receive in your own home – faster services will be more expensive and available either by the hour or per flight.  As these services are still in their early days, the overall level of speed, costs and usability still needs to be leveled out and trials completed.   The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is relaxing the rules on in-flight connections to ensure equal availability of these services on all airlines.

The two main Wi-Fi satellite providers (Gogo and SES) have decided to combine their services to offer more options for both domestic and international flights. These services are gaining in popularity around the world with a recent report by Global Industry Analysts indicating the market could be worth $1.85 billion by 2018.  

Norsat currently has Airborne BDCs available, and a full portfolio of airborne products is coming soon…watch this space…. Please contact us for further information.

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